Our firm is delighted that, on July 21,the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its opinion in Heimbach v.
A copy of the majority opinion is available at our website dedicated to the Amazon. In an effort to prevent employee theft, Amazon required the warehouse workers undergo security screenings at the end of their shifts. As a result, the workers generally were not paid for time associated with the security screening process. This uncompensated time included both time spent waiting in security screening lines and time spent going through the screening process.
Throughout the United States, many lawsuits were filed against Amazon challenging the legality of the uncompensated security screenings. All the lawsuits were transferred to the federal courthouse in Louisville, KY so they could be efficiently handled by a single District Judge.
BuskU. The U. However, there remained a handful of lawsuits that sought to recover unpaid wages under state laws. Relying on the U. Unfortunately, the District Court sided with Amazon and threw out the Heimbach lawsuit. For many years, our firm has represented Pennsylvania workers in litigation seeking to uphold the important principle that Pennsylvania wage law is more employee-friendly than the federal FLSA.
We believed Heimbach was such a case.
So we appealed to the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appealswhich hears appeals from the federal District Courts in Kentucky and other nearby states. On appeal, we asked the Sixth Circuit to refer the appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for guidance regarding important issues of Pennsylvania law.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to answer these questions. Our firm submitted substantial briefing addressing the above questions.
You can for access to our briefs. You can for access to this amicus brief. In addition, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed an amicus brief supporting our position.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral argument in September Then, on July 21,the Court issued an extensive, majority opinion written by Justice Debra Todd and ed by 5 of the 7 Justices. A copy of the opinion is available at our website dedicated to the Amazon.
The opinion, which eventually will be published in the Atlantic Reporter, can be cited as: Heimbach v. July 21, As noted earlier, we are delighted with the opinion.
With respect to the first certified question, the Court observed that the PMWA must be construed in a manner that is consistent with its legislative purpose of protecting Pennsylvania workers and explained that the PMWA often provides Pennsylvania workers with wage benefits that extend beyond those available under the federal FLSA.
Going forward, our firm is excited to return to the District Court in Louisville, KY to complete this litigation.
This admission follows his certification as an arbitrator by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. We recently drafted a brief in several related actions in which our clients claim the defendant violated Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Jersey wage law by misclassifying them as independent contractors rather than employees.
In many such cases, the defendant tries to intimidate the workers by filing counterclaims against the workers or third-party complaints against the corporate entities — usually LLCs — that the workers must form in order to work for the defendant.
However, there are not too many opinions addressing the legality of this bullying litigation tactic under state wage laws. Here is some text from a brief we recently filed trying to convince the judge to extend the pertinent FLSA principles to the lawsuits arising under Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Jersey wage laws. Hopefully, the following principles will help you if your client asserts state wage law claims and the defendant responds with retaliatory counterclaims and third-party complaints:.
In wage rights lawsuits arising under the FLSAcourts generally prohibit civil defendants from asserting counterclaims or third-party complaints seeking indemnification. Seee. Gingerbread House, Inc. Food Lion, Inc. Chrysler Credit Corp.
Kinray, Inc. Beavex, Inc. Most state wage statutes are similar to the FLSA with respect to the underlying policy of protecting workers and bolstering compliance through private civil litigation. For example, in Gustafson v.
Bell Atlantic Corp. See id.
Like S-L, the company required the worker to form his own corporation — called J. Services, Inc. In response, the company filed a third-party indemnification claim against JAG. Other New York courts have reached similar. Mamma Lombardis of Holbrook, Inc. See F. FedEx responded by filing third-party indemnification claims against the corporate entities that purportedly employed the drivers per a contract between the entities and FedEx.
Finally, in Villareal v. El Chile, Inc. In response, the employer asserted indemnification counterclaims.
In order to provide some structure to the analysis, we view these state statutes against the four considerations described by the Second Circuit in Herman. Here, none of the pertinent state wage statutes mention contribution or indemnification. See generally N. See N. HermanF. Such is the case here. Manchester Subaru, Inc. Hartford Technical Institute, Inc. Here, the three pertinent state wage statutes — like the FLSA — permit workers to file private civil actions in order to enforce their statutory wage rights.
In sum, the New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Connecticut wage statutes — like the FLSA and the New York, Oregon, and Illinois statutes — are remedial legislation that would be undermined if employers and putative employers could seek indemnification for wage violations. In doing some research, I recently came across Rodriguez v. Taco Bell Corp. Therein, a federal magistrate judge from the Eastern District of California held that the claim-splitting rule did not prevent a worker who was a class member in a class action lawsuit alleging unpaid work during meal breaks from filing his own similar but not identical meal break lawsuit.
Another good decision in this regard is Beckerley v. Alorica, Inc. There, nine plaintiffs started a lawsuit seeking unpaid wages under the FLSA and various state laws.
Seven of the nine plaintiffs had ly opted-in to a nationwide FLSA action, called Lillehagenagainst the employer. The employer sought to have these seven plaintiffs dismissed for improper claim-splitting. We recently had to respond to a motion to dismiss in which the company alleged that the plaintiff did not adequately plead overtime work hours Under the FLSA. I thought the motion was entirely unwarranted and wrote a quick brief pulling together some of the best cases.
In case it helps you, here is my write-up of the pertinent caselaw:. In Davis v. Abington Memorial HospitalF. Applying Davisdistrict courts within the Third Circuit hold that employees plead an overtime rights claim by simply asserting that they generally over 40 hours without receiving overtime pay.
Here are some examples:. In Acosta v.
This allegation satisfied the Davis standard. In Dirbin v. Philly Marketing Group Inc. In Jordan v.
Meridian BankWLU. In Field v. In Buchspies v.
Pfizer, Inc. Exeter Financing Corp. March 5, A copy of the opinion is available HERE. And when the parties are mutually interested in secrecy, the judge is the only champion. ZIP: 18201