Court Rejects Hospital’s Attempt to Remove Pennsylvania Overtime Lawsuit to Federal Court

Our law firm, working with co-counsel from the Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky law firm in Philadelphia, recently obtained an important decision from Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Eduardo Robreno. The decision, entitled Glatts v. Crozer-Keystone Health System, 645 F. Supp. 2d 446 (E.D. Pa. 2009), addresses the circumstances under which a company can remove state wage and overtime lawsuits to federal court on grounds that such claims are preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). In Glatts, we represent a proposed class of Chester County hospital workers who allege that the hospital has improperly denied them overtime pay by offesetting “long” workweeks (in which overtime hours are accrued) against “short” workweeks (in which fewer than 40 hours are worked). Our clients allege that, under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“PMWA”), overtime must be independently calculated each 7-day workweek. The complaint was filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas The hospital removed the case to federal court, asserting that the hospital workers’ claims are somehow related to their union contract and, therefore, are preempted under the LMRA. Judge Robreno flatly rejected the hospital’s argument and remanded the case to state court. The Judge explained that state law claims are preempted by the LMRA only if their resolution turns on the interpretation of the union contract. Because the hospital out clients’ lawsuit involved an interpretation of the PMWA, rather than the union contract, preemption (and removal to federal court) was improper. You should keep this case in mind the next time a corporate defendant tries to use the LMRA as a excuse to rob you client of his/her right to pursue litigation in state court.

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