Johnson v. The Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center, Inc., 112019 MASUP, SUCV20180033BLS2

Docket Nº:SUCV20180033BLS2
Opinion Judge:Janet L. Sanders, Justice
Party Name:Goret Johnson et al. Individually and on Behalf of Others Similarly Situated v. The Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center, Inc.
Judge Panel:Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Sanders, Janet L., J.
Case Date:November 20, 2019
Court:Superior Court of Massachusetts
 
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Goret Johnson et al. Individually and on Behalf of Others Similarly Situated

v.

The Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center, Inc.

No. SUCV20180033BLS2

Superior Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, Business Litigation Session

November 20, 2019

File Date: November 21, 2019

Judge (with first initial, no space for Sullivan, Dorsey, and Walsh): Sanders, Janet L., J.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Janet L. Sanders, Justice

Plaintiffs Goret Johnson and Natacha Thermitus bring this action against The Edgar P. Benjamin Healthcare Center, Inc. (EBHC), alleging that EBHC routinely altered the time records of its non-exempt employees to avoid paying them for the entirety of the time they worked. Johnson, EBHC’s former Human Resources (HR) Director, maintains that EBHC terminated her for bringing employees’ concerns about this so-called "time shaving" to the attention of EBHC and asserts a retaliation claim under the Wage Act (Count I), a common-law retaliation claim (Count III) as well as a Wage Act claim for unpaid sick time (Count II). Thermitus, a licensed practical nurse, alleges that she was one of the employees whose time records EBHC altered and asserts a claim under the Wage Act (Count IV) and a claim for breach of contract (Count V). Thermitus asserts these claims individually and on behalf of those similarly situated. EBHC now moves for summary judgment on all their claims. The plaintiffs do not oppose the motion as to Counts II and Count V. With regard to the remaining Counts, this Court concludes that the Motion must be DENIED .

BACKGROUND

The summary judgment record, construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs as the nonmoving parties, shows the following. EBHC provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation services to low-income Boston residents. It employs a variety of nursing staff and maintenance workers, most of whom are members of the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (Union) and are subject to a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). From September 2016 to December 2017, Thermitus, a licensed practical nurse, was part of EBHC’s nursing staff. In January 2017, she became a Union member and her regular rate of pay was raised to $28 per hour.

At all relevant times, EBHC used a third-party vendor, ADP, to process its payroll. EBHC also used an ADP-provided time clock for tracking the work time of its nursing staff and other non-exempt employees. These employees, including Thermitus, were required to punch into the time clock when their shifts began and punch out when their shifts ended. EBHC nurses worked according to three different shifts: 7:00 am to 3:00 pm (first shift), 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm (second shift), and 11:00 pm to 7:00 am (third shift). Among other things, the CBA then in effect provides that Union employees must "be on their unit or department ready to work at the start of their scheduled shift; punch out no earlier than the end of their scheduled shift; and may not leave their unit or department until the end of their scheduled shift to wait at the time clock in order to punch out." CBA at § 9.2(d). The CBA also...

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