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Tita Camilotes, et al., Individually, and On Behalf of Themselves v. Resurrection Health Care Corporation

October 4, 2012

TITA CAMILOTES, ET AL., INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RESURRECTION HEALTH CARE CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge:

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs filed their Complaint against Defendants pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. Plaintiffs, non-exempt staff nurses employed (or formerly employed) by Defendant hospitals, allege that Defendants regularly required Plaintiffs to work through all or part of their meal breaks. They further allege that Defendants subjected Plaintiffs to automatic time deductions for their meal breaks and therefore did not pay them for hours worked during those breaks. In addition to their FLSA claims, Plaintiffs also seek to recover under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq.*fn1 Before the Court are two motions: (1) Plaintiffs' motion for class certification of its IMWL claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 23; and (2) Defendants' motion to decertify the FLSA collective action. For the reasons explained below, the Court denies Plaintiffs' motion and grants Defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

Named Plaintiffs Tita Camilotes, Ethel Barbee, Ronda Brady, Chiara Del Giudice, Candace Dobrino, Fabienne Fify, Donald Moarn, and Rachelle Vardon are or were employed as staff and charge nurses at five of the eight Defendant hospitals, including Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center ("OLR"), Saint Joseph Hospital ("SJH"), Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center ("SMEMC"), West Suburban Medical Center ("WSMC"), and Westlake Community Hospital ("WLH"). Named Plaintiffs did not work at Defendants Holy Family Medical Center ("HFMC"), Resurrection Medical Center ("RMC"), or Saint Francis Hospital ("SFH") during the relevant time period.

On September 13, 2010, the Court granted Named Plaintiffs' unopposed motion to approve the form of notice to similarly situated persons pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and, by stipulation, conditionally certified this case as a collective action. (R. 72, 74.) Plaintiffs thereafter sent notices to 5,029 nurses. Out of the 5,029 nurses, 209 opted to join the FLSA class (the "Opt-In Plaintiffs"). Subsequently, 86 Opt-In Plaintiffs either voluntarily dismissed their claims or withdrew from the lawsuit. The current FLSA class consists of 217 individuals- eight named plaintiffs (the "Named Plaintiffs") and 209 Opt-In Plaintiffs.

I. Defendants' Corporate Structure and Human Resource Policies

Defendant Resurrection Health Care Corporation ("RHC") is the parent of Defendant hospitals.*fn2 Although they share the same parent company, each Defendant hospital has its own board of directors and officers. (R. 187-10, Skiem Tr. 58:6-16.) Each Defendant hospital also has a Chief Nursing Officer, who is responsible for overseeing patient care services. (R. 187-1, Brown Tr. 12:23-13:13; R. 187-4, Lambert Tr. 12:1-6.) In addition, each Defendant hospital has its own Director of Human Resources, who ultimately reports to RHC's Senior Vice President of Human Resources. (R. 179-7, Van Dyke Tr. 11:3-12:20, 15:13-16:4; R. 179-3, Brown Tr. 15:9-12.)

RHC has created and maintains a system-wide set of human resource policies ("HR Policies"). (R. 179-1, Brown Tr. 33:18-20, 51:21-52:4, 56:16-20.) RHC, for example, has a compensation policy that applies to all nurses system-wide. (R. 179-1, Brown Tr. 51:21-52:4 and Exhibit 8.) RHC's human resource policy provides:

1. Meal periods are administered as follows:

1.1 Non-exempt employees who are scheduled for a shift of seven and one-half hours or longer will receive a thirty-minute unpaid meal period no later than five hours after they begin work. Departments will schedule meal periods to accommodate work needs.

1.2 If a non-exempt employee works during his/her meal period, the 30 minutes will be paid. Manager approval is required for an employee to work through his/her scheduled meal period. Such approval must be noted on the employee's time document (see Pay Practices/Time Records policy).

2. Rest breaks are administered as follows:

2.1 Departments may schedule one or more paid rest breaks for non-exempt employees during the work day as workload permits. Rest breaks generally last no longer than fifteen minutes.

2.3 If an employee misses rest break for any reason, including department workload requirements, the employee will not be eligible for additional pay or time off due to the unused break, since the rest break is already paid.

3. Combining paid rest breaks with unpaid meal periods is a matter of department policy.

(R. 179-3, Ex. 4 to Skiem Tr. at SMEMC009319-20.) RHC's Employee Handbook summarizes RHC's meal break policy, and states:

MEAL PERIODS

Non-exempt employees who work a shift of at least seven and one-half (7-1/2) hours receive a thirty (30) minute unpaid meal period as assigned by the manager no later than five (5) hours following commencement of the shift. The meal period is not counted as time worked. Your manager will assign you a meal period and advise you of the meal period policy for your particular shift.

(R. 179-3, Skiem Tr. Ex. 3 at SMEMC 008158.)

Defendant hospitals use RHC's policies as a guideline, but they have discretion to interpret and implement the policies. (R. 187-2, Gunnell Tr. 65:14-20; R. 187-10, Skiem Tr. 83:10-84:6; R. 187-31, Bajgrowicz Decl. ¶¶ 15-17; R. 187-32, Edwards Decl. ¶¶ 13-14; R. 187-33, Lambert Decl. ¶¶ 13-14; R. 187-34, Miserendino Decl. ¶¶ 13-14; R. 187-35, Richard Decl.

¶¶ 15-16.) Each Defendant hospital delegates to individual managers the responsibility of customizing and implementing RHC's policies in a manner that makes sense for the particular department. (R. 187-31, Bajgrowicz Decl. ¶ 17; R. 187-32, Edwards Decl. ¶ 15; R. 187-33, Lambert Decl. ¶ 16; R. 187-34, Miserendino Decl. ¶ 15; R. 187-35, Richard Decl. ¶ 17.) In particular, managers implement policies and practices regarding how to schedule meal periods, where employees may take their meal periods, how employees are relieved from duty for their meal periods, whether employees may take assigned cell phones or pagers with them on their meal periods, whether supervisory permission is required to take a meal period, and how employees record time worked during meal periods. (Id.)

II. Defendants' Timekeeping System

Since 2008, Defendants have compiled work time data and processed payroll for their employees through a centralized payroll software application, known as McKesson STAR.

(R. 179-2, Hinz Tr. 13:18-16:2.) Defendants currently use a system-wide automated timekeeping system for nurses (the "API System"), which requires the nurse to "swipe in," using an identification badge, when he or she begins work and to "swipe out" when he or she stops working. (R. 179-1, Brown Tr. 40:14-22; R. 179-4, Gunnel Tr. 22:4-23:7.) Defendants implemented the API System at ...


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