United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court on Defendants Santander Bank,
N.A., Nadia Joseph, and Kristen Rimek's Motion to Dismiss
the class and collective action allegations made in Plaintiff
Crystal Sanchez's Second Amended Complaint (ECF No.
For the reasons discussed herein, Defendants' motion is
putative collective and class action, Plaintiff alleges that
Santander engaged in various intimidating and coercive
tactics aimed to dissuade similarly situated employees from
reporting overtime hours worked, contrary to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law
2014, Plaintiff was hired by Santander, at its South Amboy,
New Jersey office, and was later promoted to full-time in
September 2014. (Second Amended Complaint ["SAC"]
at ¶ 10; ECF No. 30). Defendant Santander is a
corporation that provides banking products and services.
(Id. at ¶¶ 13-14). At all relevant times,
Defendant Santander was Plaintiffs "employer" and
was engaged in "interstate commerce" as defined in
the FLSA. (Id. at ¶ 15). In February 2016,
Santander promoted Plaintiff to Branch Operations Manager
(BOM), which according to the complaint, is a non-exempt
position under the FLSA, since they do not perform managerial
responsibilities or exercise meaningful independent judgment.
(Id. at ¶¶ 11, 21-22). Instead, BOMs
perform primarily non-managerial tasks, such as processing
customer transactions; counting and balancing the cash vault;
and placing work orders, just to name a few. (Id. at
despite being labeled non-exempt, Plaintiff claims that
Santander prohibited BOMs from reporting overtime hours and
would discipline those who did. As such, many BOMs worked
considerable hours, off the clock, for which they received no
compensation. Shortly after being promoted, Plaintiff
attended mandatory BOM training, wherein other New York and
New Jersey BOMs complained to Santander about its policies
and procedures relating to BOMs and the fact that many were
required to work overtime hours, without receiving
compensation. (Id. at ¶¶ 50-51).
also claims Santander issued a series of performance-based
policies that affected BOM compensation, contrary to FLSA
standards. For example, Santander had a "Scorecard
Policy, " which penalized or reduced BOMs'
compensation whenever they worked over 40 hours per week;
similarly, under Santander's "Cross Selling Policy,
" BOMs would see a reduction in compensation if they did
not meet certain goals. (Id. at ¶¶ 57,
71). Santander's "Feet on the Street Policy"
required BOMs to leave the branch's premises to promote
Santander's products with local business during their
lunch breaks or after their shift. (Id. at ¶
72). Under Santander's "Jump Start Meetings Policy,
" BOMs were required to attend 8:30 a.m. meetings before
the branch opened to discuss the agenda for the day.
(Id. at ¶¶ 74). In addition, Santander
also required BOMs to participate in a weekly 8:00 a.m.
conference call, and a separate weekly Operations.
(Id. at ¶¶ 76, 78, 82). Lastly, Santander
required BOMs to act as Vault Custodian, which required them
to be present at the branch before it opened and after it
closed, and to assist tellers with closing their teller box
after the branch closed each day. (Id. at
¶¶ 80, 84).
their extensive responsibilities, Plaintiff requested that
more employees be hired to handle daily operations, so that
BOMs would not work as many unreported hours. (Id.
at ¶¶ 59-60, 62). According to Plaintiff, she
"felt compelled to work 10-12 hours per week off the
clock, i.e., uncompensated, so that the branch would be able
to effectively serve its customers" because, with just
two other employees (one part-time) who could perform the
duties of a teller, it was not possible for her to operate
the branch and avoid working overtime. (Id. at
¶¶ 59, 61). Plaintiff "repeatedly
complained" to Regional Operations Manager Sharon Stone
and Defendant Branch Manager Rimek about working off the
clock, and not being allowed to report overtime hours worked.
(Id. at ¶ 62). Plaintiff asserts that Santander
branch and corporate level management encouraged BOMs not to
record and submit accurate timecards reflecting the actual
hours worked, and such management had actual or constructive
notice and knowledge that this practice was not in compliance
with the FLSA and NJWHL, and they failed to take remedial
action to ensure compliance with the FLSA and NJWHL.
(Id. at ¶¶ 91-92(a)).
on Santander's failure to pay overtime, Plaintiff brings
this present cause of action on behalf of herself and
similarly situated employees in New Jersey, alleging:
(1)Violation of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §201, et
seq. (Count I); (2) Violations of New Jersey Wage and
Hour Law, N.J.S.A. §34:11-56.1, et seq. (Counts
II and III); (3) Violation of the New Jersey Wage Payment
Law, N.J.S.A. §34:11-4.2 (Count IV); and (4) Common law
unjust enrichment (Count V). Defendants seek dismissal of
these claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), since Plaintiff fails to plead sufficient facts to
maintain a class or collective action.
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to
Federal Rule Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the Court is required
to accept as true all allegations in the Complaint and all
reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and to
view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. See Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran &
Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). "To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). While a court will
accept well-pleaded allegations as true for the purposes of
the motion, it will not accept bald assertions, unsupported
conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal
conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678-79; see also Morse v.
Lower Merion School District, 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.
1997). A complaint should be dismissed only if the
well-pleaded alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a
claim. See In re Warfarin Sodium, 214 F.3d 395,
397-98 (3d Cir. 2000).
present matter does not come before the Court on Plaintiffs
motion to certify the class; rather, it is Defendants'
motion to dismiss or, alternatively, strike the collective
and class action allegations alleged in her Second Amended
Complaint. Rather than focus on the underlying claims under
each count, both parties' briefs focus principally on
whether Plaintiff can maintain a class action under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Defendants contend that dismissal
is warranted, since Plaintiffs Complaint fails to adequately
plead facts capable of satisfying the class action
requirements under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
Plaintiff argues that such a motion is premature.
party seeks dismissal of a plaintiffs class allegations as
unsustainable under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23,
"the court must accept as true all factual allegations
in the complaint and view all reasonable inferences in the
light most favorable to Plaintiffs." Andrews v. Home
Depot U.S.A., Inc., No. 03-5200, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
44304 at *7 (D.N.J. June 20, 2005); see also Morano v.
BMW of N. AM., LLC,928 F.Supp.2d 826, 839 (D.N.J.
2013). However, such a motion should only be granted in
"in those rare cases where the complaint itself
demonstrates that the requirements for maintaining a class
action cannot be met." Clark v. McDonald's
Corp.,213 F.R.D. 198, 205 n.3 (D.N.J. 2003). Instead,
"the better course is to deny such a motion because
'the shape and form of a class action evolves only
through the process of discovery.'" Myers v.