Law School Case Brief
Wharton v. Comcast Corp. - 912 F. Supp. 2d 655 (N.D. Ill. 2012)
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a complaint need contain only a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief. Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).
Plaintiffs Isiah Elder, Donald Hart, and Timothy Wharton (collectively, "Employees") filed a class action lawsuit in federal district court against Comcast Corporation and Comcast Cable Communications Management, LLC (collectively, "Comcast"). The Employees alleged that Comcast violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA"). According to the Employees, Comcast failed to compensate them for pre-shift work, post-shift work, and work during meal breaks. The Employees also allege that Comcast failed to pay them overtime wages when appropriate. The district court granted Comcast's motion to dismiss the IWPCA claim without prejudice, but granted the Employees leave to amend their complaint to assert additional allegations relevant to the IWPCA claim. The Employees filed their second amended complaint, and Comcast again filed a motion to dismiss the IWPCA claim.
Did the Employees' amended complaint sufficiently allege that they were entitled to relief under the IWPCA?
The court denied Comcast's motion to dismiss. The court noted that, in accord with the Restatement (Second) of Contracts, an "agreement" under Illinois law did not require the exchange of promises, or indeed any exchange. Instead, as Illinois courts recognized, an agreement required only "mutual assent to terms." The court further noted that the Employees alleged that, based on Comcast's employee handbooks, there existed an employment agreement whereby Comcast agreed to pay the Employees an hourly wage and to pay them overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times the hourly rate when they worked more than 40 hours a week. The court ruled that those allegations, coupled with the evidence that there was plainly mutual assent to the terms in the handbooks, was sufficient to survive Comcast's motion to dismiss the IWPCA claim.
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