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Wolford v. Allegheny Technologies Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

November 21, 2019

JACK WOLFORD, RICHARD FALETTI, RONALD ADAMIAK, VINCENT GEMINETTI, JASON COMEAU, J. PATRICK GODFREY, GREGORY JOHNS, WILLIAM JOHNS, BRIAN KAMINSKI, JOHN RESICK, KENNETH E. SHOEMAKER, WILLIAM R. SORGJR., ANTHONY L. TROZZO, MIKE TRUSLK, RON WAVREK, FREEMAN WOODY, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLIY SITUATED; Plaintiffs,
v.
ALLEGHENY TECHNOLOGIES INC., Defendant,

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MARILYN J. HORAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs bring the within collective action against their employer, Defendant, Allegheny Technologies, Inc. ("ATI"), for two compensation claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") for 1) the time spent walking from the locker room to their workstation after they have donned protective clothing and 2) the time spent at their work stations while awaiting relief employees. ATI moves for partial dismissal of the Amended Complaint for the first FLSA claim pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 22). The parties provided briefs (ECF Nos. 23, 26, and 27), and the matter is now ripe for decision.

         For the following reasons, ATI's Partial Motion to Dismiss will be granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs are employees at ATI's continuous steel manufacturing operation in Brackenridge Pennsylvania. (ECF No. 16 at ¶¶ 20-21). At the beginning of their shifts, employees must report to their workstation and remain until relieved by a subsequent shift worker. Id. at ¶ 22. Prior to arriving at the workstation, employees must don special protective clothing and equipment prior to entering the manufacturing facilities to protect them from heat and toxic fumes. Id. at ¶¶ 23, 25-29. Said clothing and equipment may only be donned after the employees enter the facility. Id. at ¶ 23. Upon entrance, employees must swipe an identification card, which records their time of arrival. Id. at ¶ 40. After swiping their cards, employees don their protective clothing in a locker room and walk to their workstations. Id. at ¶ 41. Employees then must attend a daily "huddle meeting" on safety at the beginning of their shift. Id. at ¶ 52. At the completion of their shift, upon being relieved of their workstation, employees return to the locker room, remove their protective clothing, and sometimes shower to remove hazardous materials. Id. at ¶ 42. Employees then leave the facility after swiping their identification card, which records the time of their exit. Id. at ¶ 43.

         Plaintiffs allege that ATI does not compensate for the following activities, which violates the FLSA:

a. The time spent traveling from the locker room to their workstations within the manufacturing plant. Id. at ¶ 58.
b. The time employees spend at their workstation while awaiting relief employees. Id. at ¶60

         ATI seeks dismissal of the first claim only. In their response brief, Plaintiffs concede the Amended Complaint is not seeking an FLSA claim for donning and doffing protective clothes because a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) reclassifies such as noncompensable time. (ECF No. 26 at p. 2).

         II. Standard of Review

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must "accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief." Eid v. Thompson, 740 F.3d 118, 122 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir.2008)). "To survive a motion to dismiss a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (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." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Thompson v. Real Estate Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 147 (3d Cir. 2014). "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "Factual allegations of a complaint must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. A pleading party need not establish the elements of a prima facie case at this stage; the party must only "put forth allegations that 'raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of the necessary element[s].'" Fowler v. UP MC Shady side, 578 F.3d 203, 213, (3d Cir.2009) (quoting Graff v. Subbiah Cardiology Associates, Ltd., 2008 WL 2312671 (W.D. Pa. June 4, 2008)); see also Connelly v. Lane Const. Corp., 809 F.3d 780, 790 (3d Cir.2016) ("Although a reviewing court now affirmatively disregards a pleading's legal conclusions, it must still. . . assume all remaining factual allegations to be true, construe those truths in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and then draw all reasonable inferences from them.") (citing Foglia v. Renal Ventures Mgmt, LLC, 754 F.3d 153, 154 n. 1 (3d Cir.2014)).

         Nonetheless, a court need not credit bald assertions, unwarranted inferences, or legal conclusions cast in the form of factual averments. Morse v. Lower Merion School District, 132 F.3d 902, 906, n. 8 (3d Cir.1997). The primary question in deciding a motion to dismiss is not whether the Plaintiff will ultimately prevail, but rather whether he or she is entitled to offer evidence to establish the facts alleged in the complaint. Maio v. Aetna, 221 F.3d 472, 482 (3d Cir.2000). The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to "streamline [ ] litigation by dispensing with needless discovery and factfmding." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 326-327, (1989).

         III. Discussion

         The sole issue in ATI's Partial Motion to Dismiss is whether the FLSA requires ATI to compensate Plaintiffs' post-donning walking time from the locker room to their workstation. ATI contends that under the CBA, donning protective clothing is not "work," and is not "integral and indispensable" to the principal activity of making steel, and does not start the workday under the "continuous workday" rule. Plaintiffs argue that even if the CBA reclassifies donning of protective clothing as noncompensable, it still remains a principal activity sufficient to trigger the ...


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