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Mesta v. RBS Citizens N.A.

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

December 18, 2014

LORI A. MESTA, Plaintiff,
v.
RBS CITIZENS N.A. and CITIZENS BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA, Defendants. ECF No. 17

MEMORANDUM ORDER

LISA PUPO LENIHAN United States Magistrate Judge

Before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s First Amended Individual and Collective Class Action Complaint (ECF No. 17). On May 30, 2014, Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit against the Defendants, and filed her First Amended Complaint (“Am. Compl.”, ECF No. 15) on September 25, 2014, which is the subject of the Defendants’ pending motion to dismiss. In her First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts an individual and collective/class action under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §201 et seq. (“FLSA”), and claims under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, as amended, 43 P.S. §333.101 et seq. (“PMWA”), the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 P.S. §260.1 et seq. (“WPCL”), and Pennsylvania common law for breach of contract, to recover damages for non-payment of wages and overtime wages for herself and on behalf of others similarly situated.

Plaintiff was employed by Defendants from July 2012 until January 10, 2014 as a senior personal banker. (Am. Compl., ¶9.) Essentially, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants promised, both verbally and in various writings, that certain hourly, non-exempt, employees such as Mesta, would be paid non-discretionary, performance-based bonuses for originating various types of loans (mortgage, home equity, business, etc.) (Id. at ¶10.) Defendants paid Mesta and other hourly employees any non-discretionary bonuses approximately two months after the end of the quarter during which their services were performed. (Id. at ¶11.) Plaintiff performed services during the last quarter of 2013, which allegedly met the requirements for the non-discretionary bonus. (Id. at ¶¶14-15.) On January 10, 2014, Defendants terminated Mesta. (Id. at ¶16.) Although Mesta earned a non-discretionary bonus of approximately $18, 000 during the fourth quarter of 2013, Defendants did not pay her that bonus because she was not employed at the end of February, 2014 when the bonuses were paid out. (Id. at ¶20.) Defendants only informed Mesta after she was terminated that in order to be paid the bonus, their policy required that she be employed by Citizens at the time the bonus would be paid. (Id. at ¶19.)

Although bonuses are paid approximately two months after they are earned, the amount of the bonus is allocated to the previous quarter, requiring that the regularly hourly rate of Mesta and other employees similarly situated be recalculated to take into consideration the bonuses, thereby increasing the hourly rate for each employee by the proportionate amount of the bonus. (Id. at ¶¶22-23.) Consequently, overtime wages must also be recalculated based on the increase in the hourly wage due to the bonuses. (Id. at ¶24.) In the fourth quarter of 2013, Mesta worked overtime and claims that because she earned a bonus during that quarter, she is also entitled to an additional payment for increased adjusted overtime. (Id. at ¶¶ 26-27.)

In addition, in previous quarters within the statute of limitations, Plaintiff contends that Defendants unlawfully reduced her bonus by applying a “seasoning period” after all of the services required to earn the bonus were performed. (Id. at ¶31.) This “seasoning” involved reducing the amount of the bonus earned in the preceding quarter if events after the end of the quarter occurred, such as a customer closed an account that was opened in the previous quarter. (Id. at ¶32.)

Legal Standard for Motion to Dismiss Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993).

A complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it does not allege “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 556 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”). The Supreme Court further explained:

The plausibility standard is not akin to a “probability requirement, ” but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are “merely consistent with” a defendant’s liability, it “stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of ‘entitlement to relief.’”

Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57).

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit aptly summarized the standard to be applied in deciding motions to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6):

Under the “notice pleading” standard embodied in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a plaintiff must come forward with “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” As explicated in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), a claimant must state a “plausible” claim for relief, and “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Although “[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, ” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007), a plaintiff “need only put forth allegations that raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element.” Fowler, 578 F.3d at 213 (quotation marks and citations omitted); see also Covington v. Int'l Ass'n of Approved Basketball Officials, 710 F.3d 114, 117–18 (3d Cir.2013).

Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2014).

Courts generally consider only the allegations of the complaint, attached exhibits, and matters of public record in deciding motions to dismiss. Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). Factual allegations within documents described or identified in the complaint may also be considered if the plaintiff’s claims are based upon those documents. Id. A district court may consider these documents without converting a ...


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