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Jonites v. Exelon Corp.

July 30, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable David H. Coar


Before this Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment against Plaintiff Class and individual Plaintiffs. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.


Plaintiffs are current and former hourly employees subject to receiving callouts under Defendant Commonwealth Edison's ("ComEd") "Automated Response Call Out System" (ARCOS) and ComEd's minimum response rate expectations. ComEd is an electric utility company responsible for maintaining more than 78,000 miles of power lines in Northern Illinois and providing service to the third largest metropolitan area in the United States. There are six different regions in the ComEd service territory, with each region further divided into smaller geographic zones. Each zone has one or more local areas or "barns" where employees report to work. Defendant Exelon Business Service Company ("BSC") provides "corporate governance services" to Defendant Exelon Corp. and to ComEd, which involves "compensation and benefits" policies.

Plaintiffs are subject to "call-outs", where they are asked to return to work when additional manpower is needed to address emergency work conditions such as weather-related outages, interruptions in customer service, or outages or immediate dangers caused by equipment failures. A "callout" or "call back" refers to a circumstance where the employee has left ComEd's premises or work site, but then returns to his reporting location after being notified of work that needs to be performed immediately because of an emergency condition.


Plaintiffs are hourly workers and were represented by International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 15 for collective bargaining purposes. Local 15 entered into a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") with ComEd, Exelon Corp. and BSC. Article IV of the CBA, entitled "Hours of Work, Overtime and Holidays," defines the "basic work week" and terms under which employees receive overtime, which is paid at a rate of "time and one-half" for all hours worked outside of an employee's normally scheduled, eight hour "basic workday."

The CBA defines the basic work day as a period that "shall normally consist of eight hours of work which shall be consecutive except when time out for meal is scheduled." Art. IV, para. 1, p. 13. Further, "during the regularly scheduled working day, there shall be a regularly scheduled meal period not to exceed one hour, except for employees whose work requires them to work on duty eight hours consecutively, in which case they shall eat at their work location."

CBA, Article IV, para. 21, p. 20. Employees who are scheduled to work an eight-and-one-half-hour day are entitled to receive an unpaid lunch under the terms of the CBA.

Article IV of the CBA provides that employees are paid for travel time if they must travel from their normal reporting location, or barn, to a work location. Para. 20. However, employees are not paid for time spent commuting to and from work locations within their working area. CBA, Article IV, para. 20. The CBA further provides that an employee ordered to remain at a specific location, awaiting a call for emergency work outside scheduled working hours, shall be paid at the applicable rate until release. Article IV, para. 16. The CBA provides that employees who are "called back (with or without previous notice) for work at any time outside of their regular work schedule shall be paid a minimum of two hours straight time pay and call-back allowance of two hours straight time work" unless the time worked amounts to eight hours or more, in which case employees do not receive the call-back allowance. Article IV, para. 18, p. 19.

Article VIII of the CBA provides for an arbitration procedure by an impartial Arbitrator for disputes arising from the CBA that cannot be resolved internally.


In July 2003, ComEd began using an automated computer program, ARCOS, to expedite the callout process and improve callout response rates. ARCOS allows employees to input up to three contact numbers, including cell phones and pagers, as well as other temporary numbers where they can be reached in the event of a callout. ARCOS contacts employees by calling up to three contact numbers. If the employee answers the call, he or she may choose to either "accept" or "decline" the callout. Employees may also input "on the fly" (temporary contact numbers) into ARCOS if they want to be reached at a different number than the up to three already placed into ARCOS. If an employee does not answer an ARCOS call, the reason is noted and a message is left for the employee. The system then continues to call employees in the order of the callout list, until the requisite number of employees accept the callout.

Employees who do not answer the call have a minimum period of 20 minutes, starting from the time they receive the first ARCOS call, to call back the system and accept or decline the callout. If an employee initially "declined" an opportunity, he or she may contact ARCOS within the 20 minutes to "accept" the callout. If the employee does not respond to the callout after that time, it is generally considered a "decline." However, if the employee calls ARCOS back after the 20-minute acceptance period but before the callout need has been satisfied, the employee may still accept the callout and receive credit for it. When an employee accepts an ARCOS callout, an employee has at least two hours from that time to physically report to their barn, or normal reporting location. Plaintiffs cannot determine whether or when callouts using ARCOS will occur, and ARCOS callouts are not uniformly distributed over time.

ARCOS allows for conditions under which employees are not eligible to receive callouts. ARCOS reports callouts as "excused" and not counted for purposes of total response rate, when employees are "coded" in the payroll system as already working, entitled to a "rest period," on vacation, sick or on a leave of absence.

ARCOS instituted minimum callout response and acceptance rates. Response rates are the frequency to which employees respond to the calls--either declining or accepting the callout. Acceptance rates are the frequency to which employees accept callouts. Minimum response and acceptance rates varied depending on the job and time period. Prior to April 2005, the highest required response rate was 50%, and the highest required acceptance rate was 10%, for employees who received five or more callouts per quarter. In April 2005, ComEd reduced its stated response requirements from 50% to 25%, and instituted 35% as the highest acceptance rate required. When these minimum percentages were not met, progressive disciplinary action was taken.

Since the implementation of ARCOS, Plaintiffs have engaged in various personal activities, including remodeling existing homes, coaching sports events, visiting friends and families, taking vacation and day trips, camping, hunting, fishing, performing household activities, participating in community events, going to movies and restaurants, attending weddings, watching television, etc. The Representative Plaintiffs had either cell phones or could have obtained cell-phone numbers to input into ARCOS since 2003. Some employees, such as Crew Leaders and "fault team" members, have company issued cell phones. To the extent that some Representative Plaintiffs did not have cell phones, it was admittedly a personal choice by the individual.

ComEd's Contractor Policy Regarding Former Employees Terminated for Cause ComEd maintains a policy prohibiting former employees who have been terminated "for cause" from working on its property or projects as independent contractors. Individual contractors may hire former ComEd employees terminated for cause, but these employees may not work on a ComEd project or on ComEd property.

In January 2006, Matt Turk, Vice President of Operations at Trench-It Inc., an independent contractor for ComEd, reassigned Plaintiff Michael Hisel, a former ComEd employee terminated under ComEd's callout expectations policy, to a non-ComEd project. Turk then asked ComEd to make an exception to the contractor policy to allow employees who had been terminated for failing ...

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