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Morrow v. County of Montgomery

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 31, 2014

THOMAS MORROW, et. al., Plaintiffs,
v.
COUNTY OF MONTGOMERY, PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

MITCHELL S. GOLDBERG, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs Thomas and Valerie Morrow, on behalf of themselves and similarly situated individuals, have sued Defendant Montgomery County, in connection with their employment at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility ("MCCF"). Plaintiffs allege claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. ("FLSA") (Count I), and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, 43 P.S. §§ 333.101 et seq. ("PMWA") (Count II) for failure to pay correctional officers for work performed both before and after their scheduled shifts, and failure to pay an overtime premium for hours worked over 40 in a week.

Presently before us are Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' PMWA claims and Plaintiffs' motion for conditional class certification under the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). For the reasons set forth below, both Defendant's motion to dismiss and Plaintiffs' motion for conditional certification will be granted.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Thomas Morrow has been employed as a correctional officer at MCCF since approximately June 2002. Plaintiff Valerie Morrow was employed in the same capacity from approximately June 2008 until approximately August 2012. Plaintiffs allege that throughout the time of their employment, they were generally paid for the scheduled length of their shifts as opposed to time actually worked. (First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 10-11, 18.)

Plaintiffs state that they and other correctional officers performed work compensable under the FLSA both before and after their scheduled shifts. They explain that correctional officers are required to report for roll call at the beginning of a shift. Prior to reporting to roll call, correctional officers are required to retrieve various keys from their personal lockers, which open handcuffs, safety boxes located throughout the facility and correctional officers' mailboxes. Correctional officers are further required to store any personal keys, such as house or car keys, in their lockers before entering the secure part of the facility. Plaintiffs claim correctional officers were not paid for the approximately 5-10 minutes they spent on a daily basis retrieving the keys from the locker room and traveling to the roll call room. (Id. at ¶¶ 21, 24.)

Plaintiffs further allege that correctional officers are generally required to remain at their posts at the end of their shift until their replacement completes roll call, travels to the post and performs mandatory "pass-down" procedures. Thereafter, correctional officers are required to return the facility keys to their lockers and retrieve their personal keys. Plaintiffs assert that this post-shift work takes up to 25 minutes per shift. (Id. at ¶¶ 26-28.)

Finally, Plaintiffs allege that during the time of their employment, Defendants used a pay system under which employees occasionally worked more than 40 hours in a week without being paid an overtime premium for the hours over 40. (Id. at ¶¶ 29-33.)

Plaintiffs filed their First Amended Complaint on May 17, 2013. On June 3, 2013, Defendant filed its Motion to Dismiss Count II. Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Conditional Certification on June 5, 2013, seeking conditional certification only on the pre- and post-shift work claims. Since the complaint was filed, several dozen additional Plaintiffs have opted in. The motions are now fully briefed and will be addressed in turn.

III. MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendant moves to dismiss Count II under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

A. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss all or part of an action for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court must accept the facts pled in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Semerenko v. Cendant Corp. , 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). To survive dismissal, a complaint must "contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, ...


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