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Richardson v. Help at Home, LLC

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

May 15, 2017

Lorena Richardson, individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
Help at Home, LLC f/k/a Help At Home, Inc., and Statewide Healthcare Services, LLC f/k/a Statewide Healthcare Services, Inc. and d/b/a Oxford Healthcare, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Manish S. Shah United States District Judge

         Lorena Richardson brings a putative class action against defendants Help at Home, LLC (f/k/a Help At Home, Inc.) and Statewide Healthcare Services, LLC (f/k/a Statewide Healthcare Services, Inc. and d/b/a Oxford Healthcare) for failing to pay home healthcare workers overtime pay as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. Defendants move to dismiss. For the following reasons, the motion to dismiss is granted in part, denied in part.

         I. Legal Standards

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain factual allegations that plausibly suggest a right to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). The court must construe all factual allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor, but the court need not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations. Id. at 678-79. “[D]ocuments that are attached to the complaint, documents that are central to the complaint and are referred to in it, and information that is properly subject to judicial notice” may be considered on a motion to dismiss. Williamson v. Curran, 714 F.3d 432, 436 (7th Cir. 2013); Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c).

         Defendants have attached to their motion to dismiss the affidavit of Joel Davis, the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Help At Home and for Oxford Healthcare. [24-1].[1] With a narrow exception addressed later in this opinion, the affidavit is not considered because it is outside Richardson's complaint.

         II. Background[2]

         Plaintiff Lorena Richardson is a licensed practical nurse. She alleges that from January 2014 to January 2016, she was employed by Help at Home, LLC (f/k/a Help At Home, Inc.) and Statewide Healthcare Services, LLC (f/k/a Statewide Healthcare Services, Inc. and d/b/a Oxford Healthcare). Help At Home acquired Oxford Healthcare in 1996. Defendants operate over 140 locations is several states and employ over 22, 000 employees across the country. They provide home healthcare services, including homemaker, custodial, and skilled home healthcare services to elderly and disabled persons. Defendants' gross annual sales made or business done has been $500, 000 per year or greater.

         To provide home healthcare services, defendants employ registered nurses, licenses practical nurses, certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and other home healthcare workers. Richardson and other home healthcare workers are compensated on an hourly or per diem basis. Defendants allowed plaintiff and others to work more than forty hours per week but only paid them their regularly hourly rate.

         Richardson brings this putative class action on behalf of herself and a proposed “FLSA Collective” including: “[a]ll home healthcare workers, except staffing or frontline supervisors, who have been employed by Defendants at any time since three years prior to the filing of this Complaint until the date of final judgment in this matter.” [1] ¶ 30.

         III. Analysis

         The FLSA requires an employer to pay overtime wages of time and a half of regular pay to employees working more than forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). Defendants argue that Richardson's FLSA claim fails because Help At Home was not Richardson's employer either as an enterprise with Oxford Healthcare or as a joint employer. Defendants also argue that Richardson's FLSA claim fails because her proposed class includes registered nurses exempt from the FLSA's overtime provisions.

         A. Help At Home

         Richardson pleads that she was an employee of both defendants from 2014 to 2016. [1] ¶ 5. Oxford Healthcare does not dispute that it employed Richardson. Citing to Davis's affidavit, defendants argue that Richardson never actually worked for Help At Home. Defendants also argue that Oxford Healthcare and Help At Home are a not an “enterprise” or joint employers under the FLSA. Richardson does not deny that she never worked for Help At Home. Instead, she contends that the two companies may be grouped together as an “enterprise” for determining FLSA liability. Richardson does not respond to defendants' arguments that Help At Home is not joint employer of Richardson.

         In wrangling over whether defendants are an “enterprise” and whether they are joint employers, the parties conflate two separate issues: FLSA coverage and FLSA liability. For the FLSA to be applicable, an employee must show that the defendants are obligated to conform to the FLSA's overtime wage requirements (i.e., “coverage”). To do this, the employee must show either: (1) “individual” coverage, meaning that she is “engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, ” or (2), “enterprise” coverage, meaning that she is “employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1); see Tony & Susan ...


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