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Savakus-Malone v. Piramal Critical Care, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 3, 2019



          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. United States District Judge.


         Plaintiff Callum Savakus-Malone initiated the above-captioned action based on allegations that he was not paid for time spent donning and doffing protective gear and that he was forced to forego unpaid meal breaks during his employment at Defendant Piramal Critical Care, Inc. (“Piramal”). He asserts that Defendant Masis Staffing Solutions, LLC (“Masis”) is a joint-employer with Piramal and is equally liable. Masis has filed a Motion to Dismiss, arguing that it is not a joint-employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) 29 U.S.C. §§201, et seq. and Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (“PMWA”), 43 P.S. § 333.101, et seq., and that the remaining state law claims are insufficiently pled. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Dismiss is granted without prejudice.


         Savakus-Malone filed this action on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated. The Amended Complaint alleges the following facts. Savakus-Malone is an individual who was employed by Piramal and Masis as an hourly Production Operator from April 2018 to July 2018. See Am. Compl. ¶ 26, ECF No. 16. Piramal is a Delaware corporation headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and “is a significant producer of inhalation anesthetics, injectable pain and anesthesia drugs, Intrathecal Baclofen therapy for spacity management, and plasma volume expanders.” Id. at ¶ 27. Masis is a Massachusetts-based limited liability company which provides labor staffing for its clients, including Piramal. Id. at ¶ 29.

         On or around April of 2018 Masis screened Savakus-Malone as a potential Piramal employee. See id. at ¶ 34. Shortly thereafter, Savakus-Malone was offered, and accepted, the opportunity to work for Piramal as a Production Operator at Piramal's Bethlehem, Pennsylvania facility. Id. During the course of Savakus-Malone's employment at Piramal, he was instructed to arrive fifteen minutes early, unpaid, to don and doff safety gear necessary to the performance of his job, and to stay an extra fifteen minutes at the end of each shift, unpaid, to remove the safety gear. See id. at ¶¶ 39-40. Savakus-Malone was also instructed to forego meal breaks, which he did, although time allotted for meal breaks was automatically deducted from his hours worked. Id. at ¶¶ 41-42. Savakus-Malone complained to representatives from Piramal and Masis regarding incorrect pay, but neither Piramal nor Masis corrected the errors. Id. at ¶ 13.

         On or around July 20, 2018, Savakus-Malone arrived at Piramal's premises and was told that his “contract had ended.” Id. at ¶ 95. That same day, a Masis representative contacted, or attempted to contact, Savakus-Malone for the purpose of informing him that he no longer worked at Piramal. See id. at ¶ 96. Savakus-Malone was not subsequently offered another employment position by Masis. Id. at ¶ 97.

         The Amended Complaint asserts six counts: (1) a claim pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA for failure to provide overtime pay;[2] (2) a claim pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 215(a)(3) of the FLSA for retaliation;[3] (3) a violation of Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (“PMWA”), 43 P.S. § 333.101, et seq.; (4) a violation of Pennsylvania's Wage Payment and Collection Law (“WPCL”), 43 Pa. Stat. § 260.1, et seq.; (5) unjust enrichment pursuant to Pennsylvania common law; and (6) breach of contract pursuant to Pennsylvania common law. Savakus-Malone alleges that Piramal and Masis are in violation of the aforementioned statutes and torts as a result of their failure to pay employees at least one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for off-the-clock work performed in excess of forty hours in one work week. See Am. Compl. ¶ 141.

         The Amended Complaint further alleges that Piramal and Masis are “joint employers” pursuant to the FLSA and PMWA and therefore each have the duty to ensure that the rights provided by these statutes are enforced. See id. at ¶ 79. Savakus-Malone alleges, upon information and belief, that Masis facilitated his screening and hiring for work at Piramal. Id. at ¶ 82. Savakus-Malone alleges that Masis discussed potential employment at Piramal with him, Masis ran a background check on him, Masis performed employment-related drug screening on him, and a representative from Masis communicated to him the hourly wage he would be paid for work performed for Piramal. See id. at ¶¶ 83-86. Savakus-Malone alleges, upon information and belief, that Masis was paid a lump sum by Piramal at the time of his hiring and continued to receive money from Piramal related to his continued work at Piramal. See id. at ¶¶ 87-88. Savakus-Malone alleges that throughout the course of his employment, Piramal's employees were responsible for supervising him, he clocked in and clocked out at Piramal's Bethlehem facility, and a record of his working hours were regularly transmitted by Piramal to Masis. See id. at ¶¶ 90-91, 93. Savakus-Malone alleges, upon information and belief, that Masis was responsible for issuing, and did issue, paychecks to him. See id. at ¶ 94. Savakus-Malone alleges, upon information and belief, that Masis participated in the decision to terminate him and that Masis has retained records related to him. See id. at ¶¶ 99, 101. Savakus-Malone further alleges that his employment at Piramal was terminated around July 20, 2018, and was communicated to him by both representatives for Piramal and Masis. Id. at ¶ 44.

         Masis has filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 12(b)(6). Masis argues that the FLSA and PMWA claims should be dismissed because it is not a “joint-employer” of Savakus-Malone with Piramal. See Mot. Dismiss ¶ 29, ECF No. 19. Further, Masis states that the WPCL and breach of contract claims should be dismissed because Savakus-Malone fails to sufficiently plead the existence of a contract and that the unjust enrichment claim fails as a matter of law.[4]


         In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, this Court must “accept all factual allegations as true [and] construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Pinker v. Roche Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Only if “the ‘[f]actual allegations . . . raise a right to relief above the speculative level'” has the plaintiff stated a plausible claim. Id. at 234 (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 540, 555 (2007)). “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.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). However, “the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions.” Id. (explaining that determining “whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief . . . [is] a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense”). The defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that a plaintiff has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005) (citing Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1409 (3d Cir. 1991)).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         The first three counts of the Amended Complaint are brought pursuant to the FLSA and PMWA. These statutes regulate conduct between employees and employers. Because the definition of “employer” is similarly expansive under both the FLSA and PMWA, “the analysis for whether an individual constitutes an ‘employer' is the same under the PMWA as under the FLSA.” Schneider v. IT Factor Prods., No. 13-5970 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173583, *13 (E.D. Pa. December 9, 2013). Masis argues in the Motion to Dismiss that it is not an employer or joint employer of Savakus-Malone and that these counts must therefore be dismissed. It further argues that the remaining counts of the Amended Complaint, which are brought pursuant to Pennsylvania common law and statutory law, fail to state a claim.

         A. Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently plead that Masis is a “joint employer” within ...

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