Name of Assigned Judge Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge James F. Holderman than Assigned Judge
For the reasons explained in the Statement section of the order, the motion to dismiss of defendants Comcast Corporation and Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC  is granted. Count III of the plaintiffs' Amended Complaint  is dismissed. Plaintiffs are granted leave to file a Second Amended Complaint with additional allegations supporting a claim under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act by 9/18/12.
O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
Plaintiffs Isaiah Elder, Donald Hart, and Timothy Wharton have brought a putative class action against Comcast Corporation and Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC (collectively "Comcast") alleging violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") (Count I), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS 105/1-105/15 (Count II), and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA"), 820 ILCS 115/1-115/16 (Count III).The plaintiffs allege that Comcast failed to compensate them for work they completed during pre-shift and post-shift activities, and during meal breaks, and failed to pay them overtime wages when appropriate. Pending before the court is Comcast's motion to dismiss the IWPCA claim. (Dkt. No. 44.) For the reasons explained below, that motion is granted, and the plaintiffs are granted leave to file a Second Amended Complaint by 9/18/12.
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need only contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While "detailed factual allegations" are not required, "labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must "include sufficient facts 'to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.'" Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. College Dist., 634 F.3d 901, 903 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). In ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court "construe[s] the . . . [c]omplaint in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, accepting as true all well-pleaded facts and drawing all possible inferences in his favor." Cole, 634 F.3d at 903.
With certain exceptions not relevant here, the IWPCA requires every employer "at least semi-monthly, to pay every employee all wages earned during the semi-monthly pay period." 820 ILCS 115/3. Wages are defined as "any compensation owed an employee by an employer pursuant to an employment contract or agreement between the 2 parties, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, piece, or any other basis of calculation." 820 ILCS 115/2. The IWPCA therefore does not provide an independent right to payment of wages and benefits; instead, it only enforces the terms of an existing contract or agreement. See Sanchez v. Haltz Const., Inc., No. 09 C 7531, 2012 WL 13514, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 4, 2012) (citing Nat'l Metalcrafters, Div. of Keystone Consol. Indus. v. McNeil, 784 F.2d 817, 824 (7th Cir. 1986)). Accordingly, "for a person to state a claim under the Wage Collection Act, he or she must plead that wages or final compensation is due to him or her as an employee from an employer under an employment contract or agreement." Landers-Scelfo v. Corporate Office Sys., Inc., 827 N.E.2d 1051, 1058 (Ill. App. Ct. 2005).
Significantly, "[a]n employment agreement need not be a formally negotiated contract," but is "'broader than a contract and requires only a manifestation of mutual assent on the part of two or more persons; parties may enter into an 'agreement' without the formalities and accompanying legal protections of a contract.'" Id. at 1059 (quoting Zabinsky v. Gelber Grp., Inc., 807 N.E.2d 666, 671 (2004). Moreover, "an employment agreement can be entirely implicit," and "employers and employees can manifest their assent to conditions of employment by conduct alone." Id. at 1058-59. Accordingly, "alleging that an entity paid a worker according to a demonstrable formula for work done is sufficient to raise an inference that the entity and the worker had an employment agreement that embodied the formula." Id. at 1058.
Here, the plaintiffs sole allegation related to the existence of an agreement states that:
Defendants, by agreement, promised to pay Plaintiffs and class members an hourly rate for all time worked and overtime pay when they worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Amongst other places, this agreement is documented in Defendants' handbooks, which Plaintiffs and ...