Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Minasyan v. Western Union Financial Services, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 26, 2019

TAMARA MINASYAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
WESTERN UNION FINANCIAL SERVICES, INC.; and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants. Labor Code Violation Defendant’s Calculation Plaintiff’s Calculation Court’s Calculation

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND [11]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         This is a wage-and-hour lawsuit brought under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”). (Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.) Defendant Western Union Financial Services Inc., (“WUFSI”) a Colorado Corporation, has employed Plaintiff Tamara Minasyan (“Minasyan”) since April 2015. (Notice of Removal Ex. 5 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1-5.) Minasyan is a Compliance Officer; her primary duty is to supervise the contracted agents’ compliance program. (Compl. ¶ 12.) After April 2018, Minasyan claims she consistently works more than eight hours per day and over forty hours per week. (Id. ¶ 13.) Accordingly, Minasyan brought this representative action against WUFSI for failing to pay its employees for all time worked, including premium pay for failure to provide meal and rest periods, and failing to provide accurate wage statements. (Id. at ¶ 1.) WUFSI then removed this action to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) Minasyan subsequently moved to remand the case, arguing that the statutory penalties she seeks do not exceed $75, 000. (Pl.’s Mot. to Remand (“Motion”), ECF No. 11.) For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion and REMANDS this action to state court.[1]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction only as authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; see also Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court only if the federal court has original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action arises under federal law, id. § 1331, or where each plaintiff’s citizenship is diverse from each defendant’s citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. Id. § 1332(a). “Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold.” Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003).

         The removal statute is strictly construed against removal, and “[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The chart below illustrates the penalties and unpaid wages that each party alleges that Minasyan is entitled to if she proves her case. The Court assumes, without deciding, that the undisputed penalties are fully recoverable. (Def.’s Opp’n. to Mot (“Opp’n”) 5–14, ECF No. 12; Mot. ¶¶ 20–33.) The Court adjusted Minasyan’s computation of the amount in controversy based on accrued penalties of twelve months rather than her calculation of six months of accrued penalties. (See Mot. ¶ 33.)

Labor Code Violation
Defendant’s Calculation
Plaintiff’s Calculation
Court’s Calculation

Failure to Pay Overtime

$24, 999.55

$21, 242.94

$300

Failure to Provide Meal Breaks

$9, 675.24

$9, 675.24

$412.50

Failure to Provide Rest Breaks

$9, 675.24

$8, 675.24

$412.50

Inaccurate Records

$825

$825

$825

Noncompliant

Wage

Statements

$825

$825

$825

Untimely

Wage

Payments

$825

$825

$825

Total PAGA

$46, 825.03

$42, 068.42

$3, 600

Weekly Penalty Accrued After Removal

$668.93

$600.98

$51.43

12 Month

Accrued

Penalty

$34, 784.36

$31, 250.96

$2, 674.36

Attorney Fees

$20, 402.35

$18, 329.85

$1, 568.59

Total

$102, 011.74

$91, 649.23

$7, 842.95

         Here, the parties included unpaid wages in their calculations for amount in controversy. The Court did not because the California Supreme Court states that, “unpaid wages are not recoverable as civil penalties under the PAGA.” ZB, N.A. v. Superior Court of San Diego Cty., No. S246711, 2019 WL 4309684, at *8 (Cal. Sept. 12, 2019). “Although section 558 authorizes the Labor Commissioner to recover [underpaid wages] . . . this amount, understood in context, is not a civil penalty that a private citizen has authority to collect through the PAGA.” Id. at *1. Therefore, Minasyan as a private citizen is unable to recover unpaid overtime and premium pay from missed meal and rest breaks. Id. at *8.

         Here, “[t]he Complaint asserts a single cause of action for alleged violations of the Private Attorneys General Act.” (Notice of Removal ¶ 1.) Accordingly, when determining the amount in controversy the Court will only consider the civil penalties that Minasyan is entitled to under PAGA. See ZB, N.A., 2019 WL 4309684, at *8 (holding that employees cannot recover unpaid wages in lawsuits brought under PAGA because the only remedy available is a civil penalty based on the alleged violation).

         The statute of limitations for recovery of PAGA penalties is one year from the date that Minasyan submitted her intent letter to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency (“LWDA”). Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 340. Even though Minasyan has been employed since April 2015, she is only entitled to recover for violations that occurred following November 1, 2017. (Compl. ¶ 7.)

         Here, Plaintiff alleges that her PAGA damages span from November 1, 2017 to March 1, 2019, a sum of thirty-three pay periods. (Notice of Removal ¶ 13.) Pay periods are used to determine the number of violations ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.