EDNY Notes Split Re Whether Employment Relationship Alone Is Sufficient to Find a Common Nucleus of Operative Fact between FSLA and State Law Claims

Per Rivera v. Ndola Pharmacy Corp., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2007 WL 1874370 (E.D.N.Y. June 29, 2007):

Typically, supplemental jurisdiction is appropriate for claims during the employment relationship because those claims arise from the same underlying factual basis. However, the only factual link between plaintiff's claims of sexual harassment by M. Patel and Hameed, unlawful retaliation, negligent retention and supervision of a supervisor, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and battery (collectively “plaintiff's remaining state law claims”) and the FLSA overtime claim is that the underlying events occurred during the course of plaintiff's employment by Ndola Pharmacy.

The Circuits are divided as to whether the employment relationship alone is sufficient to find a “common nucleus of operative fact” between an employee's FLSA claims and state law claims. Lyon v. Whisman, 45 F.3d 758 (3d Cir.1995) (employment relationship was insufficient); cf. Prakash v. American Univ., 727 F.2d 1174 (D.C.Cir.1984) (employment relationship was sufficient). Although the Second Circuit has yet to address this issue, precedents suggest that the link is too tenuous in the instant case to provide a “common nucleus of operative fact.” In Young v. New York City Transit Authority, 903 F.2d 146 (2d Cir.1990), the court found there was no “common nucleus of operative fact” where the federal claim raised “legal issues completely unrelated to those presented by the state” claim. Id. at 164; see also Bu v. Benenson, 181 F.Supp.2d 247, 254 (S.D.N.Y.2001) (claims were not “part of the same case or controversy” where state law claims “involve[d] different rights, different interests, and different underlying facts” than the federal law claims). Additionally, courts have held that there is no common nucleus of operative fact where the events underlying the federal claims occur at a different time than the events underlying the state law claims. See, e.g., Wigand v. Flo-tek, Inc., 609 F .2d 1028, 1033 (2d Cir.1980) (no common nucleus of fact where the events relevant to the federal claim occurred prior to the contract date but the events relevant to the state law claim occurred after); Bray v. City of New York, 356 F.Supp. 277 (S.D.N.Y.2004) (plaintiffs' status as bike ride participants did not render claims “part of the same case or controversy” because the federal claim involved events which occurred during the bike ride whereas the state law claim involved events which occurred before the bike ride).

. . .

Plaintiff cites to the Second Circuit's holding in Ford Motor Credit Co., 358 F.3d at 213-214, in support of her argument that the employment relationship satisfies the common nucleus test; however, that case is distinguishable. In Ford Motor Credit Co., the Second Circuit found a “common nucleus of operative fact” between plaintiff's allegations of racial discrimination and Ford's counterclaims that plaintiffs were in default on their car loans. Id. The court found that all claims originated “from the Plaintiffs' decisions to purchase Ford cars.” Id. at 214. Unlike the instant case, all claims could be traced to a single loan transaction between each individual plaintiff and Ford. Here, plaintiff's claims arise from many transactions occurring over several years and are related only because they occurred while plaintiff was an employee of Ndola Pharmacy.


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