Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lee v. Caregivers For Independence, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

June 21, 2017

BOBBI LEE, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff,
v.
CAREGIVERS FOR INDEPENDENCE, LLC, Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael R. Barrett, Judge United States District Court

         This matter is before the Court on: Plaintiff's Motion to Conditionally Certify a FLSA Collective Action, Approve Notice and Expedited Consideration (Doc. 16) and the responsive memoranda thereto (Doc. 24); and Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 21), Plaintiff's memorandum in opposition (Doc. 23), and Defendants' reply (Doc. 28). Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Authority in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. 29). Defendants responded (Doc. 30), and Plaintiff filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority (Doc. 32). Most recently, Plaintiff filed an Unopposed Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Authority in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Conditional Certification (Doc. 33). This matter is now fully briefed and ripe for review.

         As an initial matter, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motions for leave to file supplemental authority (Docs. 29, 33).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Bobbi Lee filed a complaint on behalf of herself and others similarly situated against Defendants Caregivers for Independence, LLC, James Couch, Phyllis Couch, and James Couch, II, (“Defendants')[1] seeking unpaid overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards O.R.C. § 4111 et. seq., and the Ohio Prompt Pay Act O.R.C. § 41135.15. Plaintiff filed this lawsuit as a collective action under Section 216(b) of the FLSA on behalf of herself and other similarly-situated workers employed by Defendants who were paid hourly. (Doc. 26).

         Plaintiff is a former employee of Caregivers for Independence, LLC (“Caregivers”) - an entity that provides in-home personal healthcare in Hamilton, Ohio. Plaintiff worked for Caregivers from approximately 2010 to September 29, 2015. (Doc. 26 at ¶ 3). Specifically, she provided companionship services to elderly persons and other persons who, because of illness, injury, or disability, required assistance for themselves. (Id. at ¶ 1). While Plaintiff's hours varied from week to week, it is undisputed that during some work weeks, she worked more than 40 hours. (Docs. 21, 23). As explained more fully herein, Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to the recent changes in the overtime pay requirements imposed by the FLSA specific to companionship employees. 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.

         Generally, the FLSA requires employers to pay their employees time and one-half their regular rates of pay for any hours worked in excess of 40 each week. In 1974, however, Congress amended the FLSA to exempt employers from paying domestic service employees overtime pay. 29 U.S.C. § 213(a). The exemption included “any employee employed in domestic service employment to provide companionship services for individuals who (because of age or infirmity) are unable to care for themselves . . . .” 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(15). The following year, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) published regulations which provided guidance in defining “companionship services”[2] and “third party employment.”[3] 29 C.F.R. § 552.6; 29 C.F.R. § 552.109. Thus, under the rules, employers like Caregivers were exempt from paying employees like Plaintiff overtime.

         In October 2013, The DOL issued a Final Rule amending the companionship services exemption regulations. See Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service, 78 Fed. Reg. 60454, 60455 (Oct. 1, 2013). The new regulations modernized the definition of companionship services, and significant to the instant action, removed the exemption applying to caregivers who were employed by third-party employers. Id. This change effectively precluded third-party employers, such as Caregivers, from claiming the exemption under the FLSA's overtime provisions for companionship service employees. See 29 C.F.R. § 552.109(a) (hereinafter referred to as “Regulation”) ("Third party employers of employees engaged in companionship services within the meaning of § 552.6 may not avail themselves of the minimum wage and overtime exemption."). In other words, under the Regulation, employees like Plaintiff are entitled to overtime pay. The DOL chose January 1, 2015 as the effective date of the Regulation, recognizing the rule would impact a diverse group of interested parties. See Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service, 78 Fed. Reg. at 60494-95.

         Before the Regulation went into effect, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order finding the DOL exceeded its rule-making authority in eliminating the FLSA exemption for home healthcare workers and vacated the Regulation nationwide. Home Care Ass'n of Am. v. Weil, 76 F.Supp.3d. 138 (D.D.C. 2014); Home Care Ass'n of Am. v. Weil, 76 F.Supp.3d 123 (D.D.C. 2015). In August 2015, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the district court's decision, and found the Regulation valid. Home Care Ass'n of Am. v. Weil, 799 F.3d 1084 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Subsequently, the DOL issued guidance stating that it would not institute enforcement proceedings for violations of the Regulation until 30 days after the Court of Appeals issued its mandate. See 80 Fed. Reg. 55029 (Sept. 14, 2015). The Court issued its mandate on October 13, 2015. The DOL then indicated that it would not bring enforcement actions for violations of the Regulation prior to November 12, 2015. See Application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to Domestic Service: Dates of Previously Announced 30-Day Period of Non-Enforcement, 80 Fed. Reg. 65646 (Oct. 27, 2015).

         Plaintiff alleges she and other similarly situated employees are entitled to overtime pay beginning on January 1, 2015 - the initial effective date of the Regulation. She moves for conditional class certification. In response, Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The issue before the Court is when the Regulation became enforceable, or put another way, what the “effective date” of the Regulation is. Because it is dispositive of the case, the Court addresses Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings first.

         II. STANDARDS

         A. Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) is analyzed using the same standards applicable to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Tucker v. Middleburg-Legacy Place, LLC, 539 F.3d 545, 549 (6th Cir. 2008) (citing Sensations, Inc. v. City of Grand Rapids, 526 F.3d 291, 295 (6th Cir. 2008)). “[T]o survive a motion to dismiss[, ] a complaint must contain (1) ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible, ' (2) more than ‘a formulaic recitation of a cause of action's elements, ' and (3) allegations that suggest a ‘right to relief above a speculative level.'” Tackett v. M&G Polymers, USA, LLC, 561 F.3d 478, 488 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)). A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 663 (2009). Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Directv, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007)). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only “a short and plain statement of the claim showing the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.