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Dalanas v. Uni-Kem Chemicals, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 20, 2019



          GERALD J. PAPPERT, J.

         Richard Dalanas sued Uni-Kem Chemicals, Inc., alleging that Uni-Kem violated his rights under the FLSA and the PMWA by failing to pay him the minimum wage and not properly compensating him for overtime hours. Uni-Kem moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint on the grounds that a portion of the claimed damages is time-barred by the FLSA's and PMWA's statutes of limitations and that Dalanas has not sufficiently pleaded that he was a Uni-Kem employee or that he suffered any damages. The Court denies the Motion for the reasons that follow.


         Dalanas began his employment with Uni-Kem as a technician on July 1, 2015. (Am. Compl. ¶ 13, ECF No. 7.) He worked in Uni-Kem's Tullytown, Pennsylvania office. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Dalanas “perform[ed] manual labor, ” “pick[ed] up and drop[ped] off equipment, ” “travel[led] to different job locations” and performed some clerical work. (Id. at ¶ 26.) He had no managerial responsibilities. (Id. at ¶ 36.)

         The Amended Complaint alleges that Uni-Kem “regularly supervised [Dalanas's] work, set [his] schedule, and determined the hours” he worked. (Id. at ¶ 23.) Dalanas “used tools and/or equipment provided by [Uni-Kem]” to perform his work. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-18.) Uni-Kem “promulgated work rules, policies, and procedures that applied to [Dalanas] and [Uni-Kem] had the authority to discipline [him] for any violation” of those rules. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Uni-Kem kept records of Dalanas's work in its Tullytown office. (Id. at ¶ 22.)

         Dalanas alleges that from July 1, 2015 to August 15, 2018, he “routinely” worked eighty hours per week, including “overnight jobs” approximately twice per week. (Id. at ¶¶ 27-28.) He claims Uni-Kem never paid him. (Id. at ¶¶ 25, 30.) Instead, Uni-Kem “expected [another Uni-Kem] employee, Robert Albert . . . to pay [Dalanas].” (Id. at ¶ 25.) Dalanas received $250 from Albert each week. (Id. at ¶ 25.) Dalanas filed this lawsuit on April 1, 2019. (Compl., ECF No. 1.)[1]


         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the plaintiff must allege “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 (2009). A complaint must provide “more than labels and conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). “Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. (citation omitted). While a complaint need not include detailed facts, it must provide “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         Twombly and Iqbal require the Court to take three steps to determine whether the complaint will survive defendants' motion to dismiss. See Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 787 (3d Cir. 2016). First, it must “take note of the elements the plaintiff must plead to state a claim.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 675). Next, it must identify the allegations that are no more than legal conclusions and thus “not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). Finally, where the complaint includes well-pleaded factual allegations, the Court “should assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.” Id. (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679). The Court should “construe truths in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and then draw all reasonable inferences from them.” Id. at 791.



         Uni-Kem first argues that Dalanas's claims for damages that allegedly accrued between July 1, 2015, and April 1, 2016 are barred by the FLSA's and PMWA's statutes of limitations. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a) (“[E]very [FLSA] action [for unpaid minimum wages or overtime compensation] shall be forever barred unless commenced within two years after the cause of action accrued, except that a cause of action arising out of a willful violation may be commenced within three years . . . .”); 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 260.9a(g) (“No . . . legal action shall be instituted under the [PMWA] for the collection of unpaid wages . . . more than three years after the day on which such wages were due and payable . . . .”). Dalanas concedes that his claims for damages before April 1, 2016 are outside of the applicable limitations periods, but argues that the statutes of limitations are equitably tolled because Uni-Kem failed to post summaries of the FLSA and PMWA in its Tullytown office as required by both statutes. See (Am. Compl. ¶¶ 48, 55, 63, 71); 29 C.F.R. § 516.4; 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 333.108.

         Dalanas cites Bonham v. Dresser Industries, Inc., 569 F.2d 187 (3d Cir. 1977), in which the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that an employer's failure to post an ADEA notice in the workplace tolls the ADEA's limitations period for filing a claim with the Secretary of Labor. District courts within the Third Circuit have applied Bonham in the FLSA and PMWA contexts, holding that an employer's failure to post summaries of the FLSA and PMWA in the workplace tolls the applicable statutes of limitations. See, e.g., Order, Albert v. Uni-Kem Chems., Inc., No. 19-cv-1368 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 7, 2019), ECF No. 16; Ying Yang v. Vill. Super Mkt., Inc., 2019 WL 1275059 at *4 (D.N.J. Mar. 20, 2019), reconsideration denied, 2019 WL 2135908 (D.N.J. May 14, 2019); Friedrich v. U.S. Computer Servs., Inc., 833 F.Supp. 470, 478 (E.D. Pa. 1993); Kamens v. Summit Stainless, Inc., 586 F.Supp. 324, 328 (E.D. Pa. 1984).

         Accepting as true Dalanas's allegations that Uni-Kem failed to post FLSA and PMWA summaries in its Tullytown office, the Amended Complaint's allegations are sufficient to toll the FLSA and PMWA's statutes of limitations at this stage of the ...

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