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Rosario v. First Student Management LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 23, 2017

MARIBEL ROSARIO, et al., individually and on behalf of similarly situated employees, Plaintiffs,
v.
FIRST STUDENT MANAGEMENT LLC, and FIRST STUDENT INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          Stengel, J.

         This is an action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Pennsylvania's Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) by the plaintiffs against First Student Management LLC and First Student Inc. (collectively “First Student”).[1] First Student employed the plaintiffs as bus drivers and driver assistants, and the plaintiffs now seek to recover wages to which they claim entitlement under the FLSA and WPCL.

         The amended complaint sets forth the following claims: (1) an overtime claim under the FLSA; (2) a straight time claim under the WPCL; and (3) an overtime claim under the WPCL.[2] First Student filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, I am granting the motion to dismiss.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         First Student is a nationwide provider of student transportation with operations in forty-two different states. In Pennsylvania alone, First Student operates thirty-seven separate bus yards that contract with local municipal schools to provide students with intrastate transportation to extracurricular activities. In and before 2013, First Student employed the seventy-five plaintiffs as bus drivers and driver assistants.

         A. Pre-Trip and Post-Trip Driving Activities

         When First Student agrees to a contract to provide student transportation for a school district, First Student secures an estimate as to the approximate time it would take to drive each route under the contract (“route estimate”). These route estimates are then entered into FOCUS, a computer system which generates an agenda of bus route tasks that must be performed and assigns a driver to each route at the beginning of each work day. The route estimates are compiled for each driver to form a “standard hours” estimate of the projected time the employee will work for a given week.

         The drivers and assistants are instructed to appear at the bus yard at a pre-designated time, usually 7:30 a.m. for morning runs and 1:30 p.m. for afternoon runs. When the drivers and assistants arrive at the yard, they sign in to receive their route assignment for the day. After receiving their assignments, the drivers perform an inspection of the bus and log into the EVIR system with their employee badge, at which time they are counted as being “on the clock.” The plaintiffs are not paid “on the clock” until they store their inspection report in the EVIR system. The pre-trip activities which the drivers and assistants have to perform prior to logging their inspection report into EVIR take approximately six minutes. First Student does not keep track of the six minutes spent on these pre-trip activities.

         When drivers return to the yard after their assigned bus run, they are required by law and First Student policy to conduct a post-trip inspection on their vehicle. In practice, this means that once the vehicle is parked, the driver logs back into EVIR at which time he is considered to be “off the clock.” However, the driver must then perform the post-trip inspection which involves cleaning out the bus, checking to make sure there are no sleeping children, reporting any issues to the office and returning their equipment. The post-trip inspection takes approximately six minutes. First Student does not track post-trip activities and drivers and assistants are not paid for the six minutes it takes to perform these post-trip activities.

         B. Route Estimates

         When a driver logs into EVIR for purposes of the pre-trip inspection, the EVIR system sends a notice to FOCUS that the driver has commenced the inspection and FOCUS logs this notice in the standard hours report as the “task start time.” Similarly, when a driver logs into EVIR for purposes of the post-trip inspection, EVIR sends a notice to FOCUS that the driver has commenced the post-trip inspection and FOCUS logs this notice in the standard hours report as the “task end time.” The elapsed time between the task start time and the end task time is compared to the route estimate and if the elapsed time is within the tolerated frame set in the FOCUS system, the driver is paid for the route estimate. If the elapsed time is not within the tolerated frame set in the FOCUS system, FOCUS creates an exception report. According to the plaintiffs, First Student routinely ignores the exception reports and pays drivers only the route estimate despite the fact that drivers may have worked for a longer time. If a driver does seek payment for all time worked rather than just payment for the route estimate, the driver must provide the documentation supporting the extra time.

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In their original complaint, the plaintiffs brought a straight time claim under the FLSA, an overtime claim under the FLSA, and two claims under Pennsylvania's WPCL. I dismissed the FLSA straight time claim with prejudice. Rosario v. First Student Mgmt. LLC, Civ. A. No. 15-6478, 2016 WL 4367019, at *8 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 16, 2016).

         I dismissed the plaintiffs' FLSA overtime claim because none of the plaintiffs met the pleading standard for a FLSA overtime claim. Id. at *6 (citing Davis v. Abington Mem'l Hosp., 765 F.3d 236 (3d Cir. 2014)). In doing so, I discussed the specific requirements for pleading a FLSA overtime claim, as dictated by the Third Circuit in Davis, and allowed plaintiffs to amend this claim. Id. at *6, 8. I dismissed the plaintiffs' WPCL claims because they failed to allege a contract entitling them to wages, which is a prerequisite to bringing a WPCL claim. Id. at *7-8. I also permitted the plaintiffs to amend their WPCL claims. Id.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted examines the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957). Following the Supreme Court decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009), pleading standards in federal actions have shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to allege facts sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a “plausible claim for relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). A facially plausible claim may not be supported by conclusory allegations, but must allow the court “to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         When presented with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), district courts should conduct a two-part analysis. Fowler, 578 F.3d at 210. First, the court must separate the factual and legal elements of the claim. Id. The court “must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions.” Id. Second, the court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint demonstrate that the plaintiff has a “plausible claim of relief.” Id. (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         “Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 677-78. While Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) does not require the plaintiff to plead detailed factual allegations, it does demand “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. at 678. In other words, a pleading that offers “labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Moreover, a pleading is not sufficient if it tenders “naked assertion[s]” devoid of “further factual enhancement.” Id.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         As mentioned above, this is an action brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Pennsylvania's Wage Payment Collection Law (WPCL). First Student filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' amended complaint, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. I will grant the motion to dismiss.

         A. The FLSA ...


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