United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. QURAISHI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon Defendants ACE Accounting
Services, LLC, ("ACE") and Christy Meyer's
(collectively, "Defendants") Motion, Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2), for Leave to File Amended Answer
("Motion to File Amended Answer"). (Defs.'
Notice Mot. to File Am. Answer, ECF No. 9.) Plaintiff Judith
Regan argues the Motion should be denied because the
amendments are "based on a sham certification,"
contradict Defendants' admissions, would be futile, and
would prejudice Plaintiff. (Pl.'s Letter Br. in Opp'n
to Defs.' Mot. 1-2, ECF No. 13.) For the reasons set
forth below, the Court cannot conclude Defendants'
proposed amendments will be futile and therefore their Motion
Allegations and Procedural History
a former bookkeeper for ACE, brought this Fair Labor
Standards Act ("FLSA") action against ACE and its
owner, Meyer, claiming they repeatedly failed to pay her
overtime. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-5.) She also alleges
Defendants violated the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law
("NJWHL"). (Id. ¶ 9.)
now seek to amend their answer to assert a new affirmative
defense to Plaintiff's claims. (Certification of Michael
DiCicco Ex. A, at 2, 5, ECF 9-1.) Specifically, Defendants
wish to add that Plaintiff was a learned professional, exempt
from the FLSA's and NJWHL's overtime requirements.
contend that "during the course of [ACE's]
investigation to comply with Plaintiff's discovery
requests, ACE reviewed the job duties and job performance by
Regan," and, "[b]ased on her level of education,
her knowledge and skill, and the job duties and her
compensation, . . . concluded that [Plaintiff] is a learned
professional employee . . . exempt from the overtime
requirements of the FLSA and NJWHL." (Br. in Support of
Mot. 4-5, ECF 9-2.) Defendants submit there is no dilatory
motive or undue delay and leave should be freely granted in
accord with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
("FRCP") 15(a)(2) and the Third Circuit's
liberal policy favoring amendment to ensure cases are decided
on the merits. (Id. at 3 (citing Dole v. Arco
Chemical Co., 921 F.2d 484, 487 (3d Cir. 1990)).
Defendants note that the parties have discussed this issue
before and that Plaintiff was originally treated as an exempt
employee, but that ACE began treating her as a non-exempt
employee because of her job title. (Id. at 4.)
first asserts Defendants' Motion "is supported by a
certification of their attorney, who has no personal
knowledge of the facts," and thus the certification
"is not competent evidence to support his
conclusions." (Pl.'s Letter Br. in Opp'n to
Defs.' Mot. 2-A.) Next, Plaintiff argues
Defendants' Proposed Amended Answer contradicts their
admissions. (Id. at 4.) In support of that argument,
Plaintiff cites several exhibits, including her own
certification and the summary of Defendants' arguments
that was included in the parties' Joint Discovery Plan.
(Id. at 4, 20-21, 43.)
third argument is that the amendments would be futile because
the professional employee exception to the FLSA cannot be
met. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff contends Defendants
cannot meet the salary requirement because Plaintiff was paid
hourly. (Id. at 6-7 (citing Guthrie v. Lady
Jane Collieries, Inc., 722 F.2d 1141, 1143 (3d Cir.
1983); 29 C.F.R. §§ 541.300(a)(2)(I), 541.600,
541.602(a)).) Plaintiff also asserts Defendants cannot
legally meet any of the three prongs of the duties
requirement because her work (1) did not require advanced
knowledge (2) in the field of science or learning, (3) which
is customarily acquired by a prolonged field of study.
(Id. at 7 (citing 29 C.F.R. §§ 541.301(a),
(e)(5) ("accounting clerks, bookkeepers and other
employees who normally perform a great deal of routine work
will not qualify as exempt professionals")).) Plaintiff
argues Defendants cannot meet each prong for the following
(1) "the only skills required in order to perform [her
job] tasks [were] a basic understanding of mathematics and
the use of computers, both of which are attained at the high
school level," (id. at 8 (citing 29 C.F.R.
(2) "Plaintiff [was] clearly not asked to perform the
work of the traditional profession of accounting,"
(id. at 7-8 (citing 29 C.F.R. § 541.301(c)));
(3) the position Plaintiff held did not require specialized
training or a master's degree and Plaintiff's
possession of a master's degree is irrelevant,
(id. at 9 (citing Crowe v. ExamWorks, Inc.,
136 F.Supp.3d 16, 34, 36 (D. Mass. 2015); Mudgett v.
Univ. of Pittsburgh Med. Ctr., Civil Action No. 09-254,
2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44266 (W.D. Pa. May 6, 2010))).
Plaintiff contends she will be prejudiced if the Court allows
Defendants to amend their answer, and that it is inexcusable
that they waited eight months to assert this new defense.
(Id. at 10.) Plaintiff also appears to contend
allowing amendment will necessitate additional discovery,
expenses, and delay. (Id. at 11 (citing as examples
Oy Tilgmann, AB v. Sport Pub. International, Inc.,
110 F.R.D. 68, 70 (E.D. Pa. 1986); Regent Nat'l Bank
v. Dealers Choice Auto. Planning, No. 96-7930, 1998 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 20122, at *13-14 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 14, 1998)).)
their reply, Defendants add that Plaintiff is essentially
applying a summary judgment standard, inappropriate at this
stage. (Defs.' Letter Br. 2, ECF No. 16.) Defendants
further argue Plaintiff was salaried and meets each of the
learned professional elements. (Id. at 4, 8-9.) They
submit, based on Plaintiff's duties, "[P]laintiff
performed work that required advanced knowledge in the field
of accounting that was ...