In Murray v. City of New York, the Department of Homeless Services (“DHS”) was faced with a suit alleging a variety of FLSA claims advanced by eleven plaintiffs. See No. 16-CV-8072 (PKC) (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 16, 2017). DHS moved against the Complaint arguing that certain individual plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege that they were denied differential pay for nightshift work.
The Court highlighted Lundy v. Catholic Health Sys. of Long Island Inc., 711 F.3d 106 (2d Cir. 2013) and Nakahata v. N.Y. Presbyterian Healthcare Sys., Inc., 723 F.3d 192 (2d Cir. 2013), recent and representative appellate cases opining on the details necessary to plausibly allege an FLSA violation. These cases require a plaintiff to “sufficiently allege 40 hours of work in a given workweek as well as some uncompensated time in excess of the 40 hours,” and allege how often, how long, and when such work occurred.
The Court evaluated the claims of each of the eleven Plaintiffs against these standards. The Court found just one Plaintiff to have sufficiently alleged that he was denied proper pay for nightshift work because he alone identified the pay period that the violation occurred and the manner in which the differential was excluded from his pay. The Court dismissed the remaining Plaintiffs’ argument that Lundy did not require individualized allegations on each of their behalves in a multi-plaintiff FLSA suit. The Court distinguished Perry v. City of New York, No. 13-CIV-1015 (JMF) (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2013), where the Hon. Jesse Fuhrman held that 2,511 plaintiffs did not have to each identify the specific weeks they were denied overtime, on the ground that the claims before it were factually specific and not simple generic overtime claims.
The Court ultimately dismissed the nightshift claims of the remaining Plaintiffs. Importantly, the Court dismissed the claims without prejudice and directed the Plaintiffs to file a motion for leave to amend their Complaint to rectify their pleading failures. Thus, while Murray highlights the opportunity an employer may have in evaluating the technical sufficiency of a pleading, the final result – a dismissal without prejudice – requires employers to determine whether success on a dismissal lends value or is an academic exercise. This will, of course, depend upon the specific facts and circumstances in each case.