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Wharton v. Comcast Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 6, 2012

Timothy WHARTON, Isiah Elder, and Donald Hart, Plaintiffs,
v.
COMCAST CORPORATION and Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC, Defendants.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Andrew C. Ficzko, James B. Zouras, Mark Bryan Goldstein, Ryan F. Stephan, Stephan Zouras, LLP, Danielle Nicole Hoffmann, Brennan & Brown, Ltd., Chicago, IL, Noelle Christine Brennan, Sarah Megan Brown, Brennan & Brown, Ltd., Chicago, IL, for Plaintiffs.

Sari M. Alamuddin, Allison Nugent Powers, Gregory P Abrams, Ritu Srivastava, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Chicago, IL, Michael L. Banks, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, PA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES F. HOLDERMAN, Chief Judge.

Plaintiffs Isiah Elder, Donald Hart, and Timothy Wharton have brought a class action against Comcast Corporation and Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC (collectively " Comcast" ). The plaintiffs allege that Comcast violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (" FLSA" ) (Count I), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (" IMWL" ), 820 ILCS 105 (Count II), and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (" IWPCA" ), 820 ILCS 115 (Count III). According to the plaintiffs, Comcast failed to compensate them for pre-shift work, post-shift work, and work during meal breaks. The plaintiffs also allege that Comcast failed to pay them overtime wages when appropriate. On September 4, 2012, 2012 WL 3835100, the court granted Comcast's motion to dismiss the IWPCA claim without prejudice, but granted the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to assert additional allegations relevant to the IWPCA claim. The plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint on September 18, 2012 (Dkt. No. 56), and Comcast again moved to dismiss the IWPCA claim (Dkt. No. 58). For the reasons stated below, Comcast's motion is denied.

LEGAL STANDARD

Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need contain only " 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, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (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, 127 S.Ct. 1955. The complaint must " include sufficient facts ‘ to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face.’ " Cole v. Milwaukee Area Tech. Coll. 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (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.

ANALYSIS

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

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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) (Grady, J.) (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., 356 Ill.App.3d 1060, 293 Ill.Dec. 170, 827 N.E.2d 1051, 1058 (2005).

The plaintiffs allege here that Comcast violated its employment agreement with them to pay them an hourly wage and to pay them overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times the hourly rate when they worked more than forty hours a week. (Dkt. No. 56 (" Second Am. Compl." ) ΒΆ 14.) They allege that the agreement is documented by (1) statements in Comcast's employee handbooks describing the overtime policy; (2) Comcast's statements in parallel litigation relying on the handbook for the proposition that Comcast " requires" employees to be paid for all time worked, Dkt. No. 41, at 5, Brand v. Comcast Corp., No. 12-cv-1122 (N.D.Ill. July 16, 2012); (3) Comcast's " Timekeeping Pay Process," a document describing the overtime policy; (4) Comcast's November 2008 timekeeping system announcement stating that " [o]vertime will now be calculated based on a normal 40-hour work week" ; (5) Comcast's 2011 and 2012 employee training programs which told employees that Comcast would pay ...


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