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Judge grants Conditional Certification of Collective Action in the Southern District of New York | Fernandez v. Catholic Guardian Services, Craig Longley, individually, Grace Poppe, individually, and Dolores Ortiz, individually, Civil Case No.: 17-cv-03161-ER

overtimeJudge grants Conditional Certification of Collective Action in the Southern District of New York
Fernandez v. Catholic Guardian Services, Craig Longley, individually, Grace Poppe, individually, and Dolores Ortiz, individually, Civil Case No.: 17-cv-03161-ER

On April 28, 2017, Lead Plaintiff Ms. Fernandez, on behalf of herself and those similarly situated, filed a collective action lawsuit against Catholic Guardian Services f/k/a Catholic Guardian and Home Bureau (“Catholic Guardian”), Craig Longley (“Longley”), individually, Grace Poppe (“Poppe”), individually, and Dolores Ortiz (“Ortiz”), individually, (collectively as “Defendants”), alleging debilitating violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”), and the New York Comp. Codes, Rules, and Regulations (“NYCCRR”), including the failure of Defendants to compensate Plaintiff for overtime provisions. The factual allegations of the case are as follows:

  • Defendant Catholic Guardian is a non-profit corporation that places undocumented children with foster care sponsors;
  • In or around July 2007, Plaintiff commenced her employment with Defendant Catholic Guardian Services as a foster care case planner and worked in that role until May 2, 2014;
  • As a foster care case planner, Plaintiff worked with children’s parents to finalize the custody process and monitored children’s health and well-being while under their parents’ care;
  • On or around April 2011 through May 2, 2014, Defendants required Plaintiff to work five to six days per week, Monday through Friday, and at least one Saturday per month, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., without a scheduled uninterrupted break each day, totaling forty-eight hours worked per week on those weeks when she worked on Saturdays;
  • On May 5, 2014, Defendant Ortiz promoted Plaintiff to the position of “case manager,” a managerial position in name only, a position she held until April 12, 2017;
  • Plaintiff’s primary duties as case manager consisted of making foster care arrangements for undocumented children, conducting intakes, handling tasks related to the children’s medical care, as well as being available, at all times, to respond to any and all emergencies that arise with the foster children, including but not limited to, their behavioral problems, placement issues, and medical concerns that required immediate attention;
  • From May 5, 2014 through the end of December 2016, Defendants required Plaintiff to work, five to six days a week, from Monday through Friday, and at least one Saturday or one Sunday a month, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., without being permitted to take an uninterrupted break each day, totaling either forty or forty-eight scheduled hours during those weeks when Plaintiff was required to work on weekends;
  • Additionally, from May 19, 2014 through July 2016, Defendants assigned Plaintiff a company cell phone and required her to respond to any emergencies that arose after her regular weekday scheduled, meaning Plaintiff worked between seventy to eight-four hours per week during that time;
  • For her work as case planner, Defendant Catholic Guardian paid Plaintiff a fixed bi-weekly salary of $1,651.96, regardless of whether one of the weeks during the pay-period was a week when Plaintiff worked on Saturday or Sunday;
  • For her work as a case manager, Defendant Catholic Guardian paid Plaintiff a bi-weekly salary of $1,668.48, regardless of whether one of the weeks during the pay-period was a week when Plaintiff worked on Saturday or Sunday.

Straight-time rate is particularly important because when a non-exempt employee works over forty hours per week, the employer is required by law to pay the employee at 1.5x his/her straight-time rate of pay for each hour worked in excess of forty. The additional pay is called the overtime rate. By failing to compensate Plaintiff Fernandez for these hours, Defendants violated rights guaranteed to Plaintiff by the overtime provisions of the FLSA, the NYLL, and the NYCCRR. 

Finally, the NYLL requires that employers furnish employees with wage statements containing specific categories of accurate information on each payday. However, on each occasion when Defendant paid Plaintiff, Defendants failed to provide Plaintiff with any wage statements, let alone statements that accurately listed Plaintiff’s actual hours worked for that workweek or overtime rates of pay for all hours worked. Defendants violated rights guaranteed to Plaintiff by the overtime provisions of the FLSA, the NYLL, and the NYCCRR.

Certification of Collective Action

On September 20, 2018, United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos, granted an order for conditional certification of a collective action against Catholic Guardian, Longley, Poppe and Ortiz. Judge Ramos authorized that a collective action notice is sent to current and former employees, who at any time during the Relevant Period, performed any work for Defendants as foster care case planners and case managers. By filing the collective action notice, current and former employees will become part of the case and eligible to receive money damages if they were not paid properly as the Plaintiffs in this case allege.

If you or a person you know worked for the Defendants named in the lawsuit during the time period of July, 2011 - present or has information that may be relevant to this case, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. as soon as possible through one of our websites, www.employmentlawyernewyork.com, www.516abogado.com or any of our phone numbers: (516) 248-5550, (516) ABOGADO, and (212) 679-5000.

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