A federal court in California has dismissed putative class claims filed against H.J. Heinz Co. LP by a factory worker alleging that the company denied employees full wages by improperly rounding their time records while also purportedly penalizing and disciplining workers for “clocking in past scheduled start times or clocking out before scheduled end times.” Mendez v. H.J. Heinz Co., L.P., No. CV 12-5652-GHK (DTBx) (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., decided November 13, 2012).
The plaintiff sought to represent putative statewide and nationwide Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classes and alleged violations of the California Labor Code— failure to pay all wages, failure to pay minimum wages owed, failure to timely pay wages at separation, failure to provide accurate wage statements—and violation of the California Business and Professions Code. He also asserted a claim for violation of the FLSA on behalf of the nationwide class.
The court agreed with the defendants that the plaintiff failed to satisfy the minimum pleading requirements because the plaintiff failed to allege “any actual facts, not even bare-bone facts, describing the rounding policy or practices.” He also apparently failed to allege sufficient facts “that would plausibly suggest that the rounding policy, whether on its own or in combination with other policies, led to a systematic underpayment of wages.” Because, however, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants had an “electronic time keeping system” that was able to “accurately track the precise time when employees clock in and clock out,” the court found that the complaint gave rise to an “inference that Defendants chose to employ the rounding policy because it produces a more favorable result for Defendants.” Thus, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss with leave for the plaintiff to amend as to the rounding policy allegations.
The court similarly allowed the plaintiff to amend his (i) FLSA claim, finding “that the deficiency of Plaintiff’s FLSA overtime claim may be curable,” and (ii) class allegations, which the court found “do not plausibly suggest that the policies are implemented on a statewide basis in California, much less on a national basis.” Because the plaintiff did not oppose the defendants’ request to strike injunctive relief, the court struck that request. The plaintiff will have 21 days to submit a second amended complaint.