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Ross v. RBS Citizens

October 8, 2010

SYNTHIA G. ROSS, JAMES KAPSA, AND SHARON WELLS, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RBS CITIZENS, N.A. D/B/A CHARTER ONE AND CITIZENS FINANCIAL GROUP, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joan Humphrey Lefkow

Judge Joan H. Lefkow

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, Synthia Ross, James Kapsa, and Sharon Wells, filed this putative class/collective action against RBS Citizens, N.A., doing business as Charter One Bank ("Charter One"), and Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (collectively, "defendants") for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. §105/1 et seq. Before the court is plaintiffs' motion for class certification of the IMWL claim. The court's jurisdiction of the FLSA claims rests on 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and of the IMWL claim on 28 U.S.C. § 1367. For the following reasons, the motion [#68] is granted.

BACKGROUND

Charter One has approximately 102 banking branches in Illinois, of which eighty-eight are traditional branches and fourteen are in-store branches. Traditional branches are freestanding operations. In-store branches are housed inside another retail establishment, such as a supermarket. These branches are organized into seven regions (six traditional regions, one in-store region), each with a regional manager. Each regional manager reports to a state director. Employees at Charter One's Illinois branches fall into the following nonexempt positions: teller, teller manager, head teller, senior teller, personal banker, and banker (collectively, "nonexempt employees").*fn1 These employees are entitled to receive overtime pay. Charter One also employs assistant branch managers ("ABMs") and branch managers at each branch who are classified as exempt and not paid overtime.

Ross worked as a bank teller from 2000 to 2005 at the Charter One Beverly Branch, a traditional branch, at 1367 W. 103rd St., Chicago, Illinois. She was promoted to teller manager in 2005. Ross was terminated from this position on February 10, 2007 due to issues she had with balancing currency. Ross testified that these issues arose because she was distracted by a robbery attempt that had occurred several weeks prior to her termination.

Kapsa began his employment with Charter One as an ABM in March 2006 at an in-store Charter One branch located at 2732 E. Main St., St. Charles, Illinois. For approximately three to four months of this time, Kapsa was the acting branch manager, as the previous branch manager departed and was not immediately replaced. In February 2007, Kapsa switched to part-time employment as a personal banker at the St. Charles location, working approximately one to two days a week with no overtime involved. In April 2008, he resumed full-time employment. In April 2009, he transferred to Charter One's in-store branch at 1290 E. Chicago Ave., Naperville, Illinois. Kapsa also spent short periods of time at in-store branches located at 3115 111th St., Naperville, Illinois, and 12690 S. State Route 59, Plainfield, Illinois, where he occasionally filled in when those branches were short-staffed. In September 2009, Kapsa was terminated for incentive fraud.

Plaintiffs seek to certify two classes, one of nonexempt employees ("the hourly class"), represented by both Ross and Kapsa, and the other of ABMs ("the ABM class"), represented by Kapsa. The proposed definition of the hourly class is:

All current and former non-exempt employees of Defendants who have worked at their Charter One retail branch locations in Illinois at any time during the last three years, who were subject to Defendants' unlawful compensation policies of failing to pay overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of forty per work week.

Third Am. Compl. ¶ 38. Plaintiffs allege that Charter One has a policy of denying overtime pay to its Illinois nonexempt employees for off the clock work in violation of the IMWL. Specifically, they allege that (1) Charter One instructs its nonexempt employees to record hours worked over forty per week, (2) Charter One occasionally erases or modifies nonexempt employees' recorded overtime hours, (3) Charter One provides comp time to nonexempt employees instead of paying overtime, and (4) Charter One requires its nonexempt employees to perform work during unpaid breaks. Plaintiffs have submitted ninety-six statements of potential hourly class members who worked at eighty-five branches under fifty-three different managers. All claim to have been denied overtime during their employment and over eighty-six percent of these individuals indicated that the allegations above applied to their experiences.

The proposed definition of the ABM class is:

All current and former Assistant Branch Manager employees of Defendants who have worked at their Charter One retail branch locations in Illinois at any time during the last three years, who were subject to Defendants' unlawful compensation policies of failing to pay overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of forty per work week.

Third Am. Compl. ΒΆ 72. Kapsa alleges that Charter One misclassified these employees in that they spent the majority of their time performing nonexempt work, which would entitle them to overtime pay. Kapsa has submitted twenty-four statements from ABMs that detail the type of work they typically engaged in.The overwhelming ...


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