Affiliate of national railway company wins federal appeal affirming dismissal of wage and hour class action
Clients Affiliate of national railway company
Jones Day obtained an appellate victory in a wage and hour class action for our client, an affiliate of a national railway company. The plaintiff alleged that he and a purported class of former employees were entitled to unpaid overtime under state law in connection with time spent traveling to and from remote job sites. After removing the case to federal court, the company moved to dismiss the case, relying on the state law definition of compensable travel time to argue that even if plaintiff's allegations were true, the alleged travel time occurred outside of normal working hours, did not constitute an employment duty, and, on either basis, was not compensable.
The district court granted the motion to dismiss, and a court of appeals affirmed the judgment. The opinion pointed to substantive and specific differences between federal wage law and the governing state law, and on the basis of those differences, declined the plaintiff's request that the court use the federal law as a tool to interpret its state analog. Instead, on a review of the pleadings and using available guidance from state law, the court of appeals found that the plaintiff did not sufficiently allege that travel was an employment duty.