United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
BRENT FORMICA, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly-Situated
US ENVIRONMENTAL INC.
Brent Formica brings this collective and class action against
his employer, the defendant U.S. Environmental, Inc., seeking
relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and
Pennsylvania law. He claims he was not paid for all time
worked and for overtime at time-and-a-half. Specifically, he
alleges he was not compensated for the time spent while
travelling on the job and for meal periods when he remained
on duty. He contends that these times should have been
included in the hours worked for the purpose of calculating
overtime. In addition to bringing these claims under the
FLSA, the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968, and the
Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, he asserts
state common law claims for breach of contract and unjust
Environmental moves to dismiss the latter two claims, arguing
they are preempted by the FLSA because they are duplicative
of the FLSA claim. Because we conclude the Pennsylvania
common law claims are preempted, we shall grant the motion.
January 2017 to September 2017, Formica worked for U.S.
Environmental as a field service technician, cleaning
oilfield tanks at various job sites. He was paid an hourly
rate. When he worked over forty hours a week,
which he routinely did, U.S. Environmental often failed to
pay him at one-and-a-half times his regular hourly
rate.For example, during the week of March 19,
2017, Formica worked 76.5 hours total. He alleges he was paid
the overtime rate for only 12.5 hours that
also contends he was not compensated for time spent traveling
to and from job sites. Before he arrived at a job site, Formica
was required to report to the company shop, to receive daily
instructions, and load equipment and materials into company
trucks. Formica and his fellow service technicians
then drove the company trucks to the assigned job site,
rotating driving responsibilities. U.S. Environmental set
Formica's pay for travel based on the fastest route from
the company shop to the job site, instead of the actual
travel time. The actual time spent on the road was typically
longer than the time fixed by U.S.
Environmental. Formica contends that as a result, he was
underpaid for his travel time.
also complains that he was not paid for meal time, even
though he was usually not permitted to take a
break. U.S. Environmental automatically
deducted thirty-minute meal breaks each day. Yet, he worked
through his meal period, was interrupted by work, or remained
available for work.
initiated this collective action on behalf of himself and
other similarly situated employees against U.S. Environmental
in violation of the FLSA. Formica also brings a class action
under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (MWA) and the
Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL), and for
breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
to dismiss the claims for breach of contract and unjust
enrichment, U.S. Environmental contends that they are
preempted by FLSA. Formica counters that the common law
claims do not replicate the FLSA claim because the latter
only provides a remedy for unpaid overtime and not unpaid
“straight pay for regular hours worked, ”
including his travel time and meal breaks. Formica
further contends that, even if the claims are duplicative,
the FLSA does not preempt duplicative Rule 23 class actions
arising under state law.
law claims based on wage and hour statutes are not preempted
by the FLSA. Knepper v. Rite Aid Corp., 675 F.3d
249, 262 (3d Cir. 2012). Citing the Savings Clause, 29 U.S.C.
§ 218(a), the Third Circuit reasoned that the FLSA's
“plain language evinces a clear intent to preserve
rather than supplant state law.” Id.
Accordingly, “claims under state minimum and overtime
laws are not preempted under the FLSA.” Id. at
Formica's claim under Pennsylvania's wage laws is not
preempted does not mean that the breach of contract and
unjust enrichment causes of action are not. In other words,
state statutory claims are not preempted, but state common
law claims may be. Although it has specifically held that
state statutory claims for overtime are not preempted, the
Third Circuit has not addressed whether the state common law
claims are preempted by the FLSA. But, it has noted
approvingly the Fourth Circuit's holding in Anderson
v. Sara Lee Corp., 508 F.3d 181 (4th Cir. 2007), that
state law claims for contract, negligence, and fraud are
preempted by the FLSA. Knepper, 675 F.3d at 263. The
Knepper court explained that the Fourth Circuit
“sensibly declined to allow the plaintiffs to use state
non-labor laws to enforce the substantive provisions of the
FLSA, analogizing their decision to an earlier holding that
plaintiffs could not enforce their FLSA rights through a
§ 1983 action.” Id. (citing
Anderson, 508 F.3d at 193-94).
Anderson court distinguished between state labor
statutes providing substantive rights and state common law
causes of action providing only remedies. In concluding the
state common law causes of action were preempted, it stated
that the plaintiffs “rely on the FLSA for their rights,
and invoke state law only as the source of remedies for the
alleged FLSA violations.” Anderson, 675 F.3d
that the Third Circuit has signaled that it would follow the
Fourth Circuit, we adopt the reasoning of the Fourth Circuit.
Thus, we conclude that duplicative ...