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Bretton v. Compass Career Management, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 26, 2015

DIANNE B. BRETTON
v.
COMPASS CAREER MANAGEMENT, LLC, SECTION: R (5)

ORDER AND REASONS

SARAH S. VANCE, District Judge.

Defendant Compass Career Management, LLC moves for summary judgment on plaintiff Dianne Bretton's claims and on one of its counterclaims.[1] For the following reasons, the Court grants defendant's motion as to plaintiff's Fair Labor Standards Act claim. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's state-law claims and defendant's state-law counterclaims and dismisses them without prejudice.

I. Background

This case arises from plaintiff Diane Bretton's employment with defendant Compass Career Management, LLC.

Defendant operates Compass Career College, a state approved proprietary school of vocational learning that concentrates on the fields of allied health, practical nursing, and cosmetology.[2] Compass is licensed by the Louisiana State Board of Regents and nationally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education.[3]

Plaintiff is a registered nurse.[4] Compass employed plaintiff as a Practical Nurse Instructor beginning on July 1, 2009. On March 28, 2011, plaintiff became Program Coordinator of the Practical Nursing program. At all times during her employment with Compass, plaintiff was employed as an instructor with a primary duty of teaching and instructing with regard to Compass's nursing program.[5]

As a condition of plaintiff's employment, defendant required plaintiff to sign a confidentiality and non-competition agreement.[6] The non-competition agreement provided that plaintiff could not accept employment with another school for a period of one year following termination of plaintiff's employment.[7]

According to plaintiff's complaint, plaintiff believed Compass was not in compliance with various requirements for instruction promulgated by the Louisiana State Board of Practical Nurse Examiners.[8] Plaintiff alleges that she observed several violations in June 2012.[9] On June 22, 2012, plaintiff allegedly called Compass and gave two weeks notice of her resignation.[10] Plaintiff further alleges that she hand-delivered her letter of resignation to Sara Moore Dugas and Leslie Moore, Compass employees, on June 25, 2012, and that her letter specified an effective date of July 6, 2012.[11] Plaintiff alleges that Leslie Moore warned her about "going to the Board of Nursing."[12]

On June 28, 2012, Compass terminated plaintiff.[13] Compass's notification to the Louisiana Workforce Commission provided the following reason for termination: plaintiff "was not following instructions and refused to implement agreed changes to paperwork [and] teaching documents."[14] The notification further stated: "employee entered building after hours and wiped out hard drive on company computer."[15] Plaintiff now contends that she deleted only items from the hard drive which were her personal property.[16]

On the same day Compass terminated plaintiff, plaintiff sent a letter via fax to Compass demanding outstanding pay from June 16 through July 6, 2012, and for thirty-two hours of vacation pay.[17] In a letter dated June 29, 2012, Compass denied plaintiff's request for vacation pay, stating that Compass owed plaintiff no vacation pay per its company vacation policy.[18]

On July 5, 2012, Compass issued plaintiff a refund check in the amount of $137.07 for money she had paid via payroll deduction for her August health insurance premium, which became an overpayment because of her discharge.[19] On July 10, 2012, Compass issued plaintiff a paycheck in the amount of $1237.37 for 50.28 hours worked for the period of June 16-30, 2012.[20] Also on July 10, 2012, Compass issued plaintiff a paycheck in the amount of $133.77 for nine hours worked for the period of June 16-30, 2012.[21]

Plaintiff filed this action against defendant on April 10, 2013, claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and various state laws.[22] Defendant answered plaintiff's complaint on July 2, 2013, and also asserted state-law counterclaims against plaintiff and her husband, John Bretton, for defamation, interference with a business relationship, unfair trade practices, trespass, conversion, and theft of trade secrets.[23]

In total, plaintiff states five claims. First, plaintiff alleges that defendant violated the FLSA by failing to pay her at the rate of time and one-half for the overtime hours she worked.[24] Plaintiff alleges that she worked at least three hours of overtime per day, five days per week, but was not paid time and one-half for the overtime hours.[25] Second, plaintiff alleges defendant violated the Louisiana Whistleblower Law, La. R.S. 23:967(a), by retaliating against her for threatening to disclose a workplace act or practice in violation of state law.[26] Third, plaintiff alleges that defendant violated La. R.S. 23:631 by failing to pay unpaid wages.[27] Fourth, plaintiff alleges that defendant engaged in unfair and deceptive acts affecting trade or commerce by enforcing a ...


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