Equal Pay Act Claim Dismissed; Mere Recitation of Statutory Language and Job Titles Insufficient

In Durand et al v. Excelsior Care Group LLC et al, 2020 WL 7246437 (E.D.N.Y. Dec. 9, 2020), the court, inter alia, dismissed plaintiffs’ claims under the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).

From the decision:

After reviewing the SAC [Second Amended Complaint], the court concludes that plaintiffs failed to state an Equal Pay Act claim because the SAC does not provide any factual allegations giving rise to an “reasonable inference” that the employees “job content was substantially equal.” Port Auth. of New York & New Jersey, 768 F.3d at 256; see Kairam v. W. Side GI, LLC, 793 F. App’x 23, 26 (2d Cir. 2019) (summary order) (affirming dismissal of plaintiff’s Equal Pay Act claim where plaintiff failed to allege that “her position was ‘substantially equal’ ” to the defendant’s position); Rose v. Goldman. Sachs & Co., 163 F. Supp. 2d 238, 244 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (finding that “nothing more than bald assertions that [a plaintiff] and male employees … received disparate wages for substantially equal jobs under similar working conditions … are too conclusory to state a claim under the Equal Pay Act”). Notably, the SAC fails to include any facts describing the job duties, responsibilities, the skill and effort required to execute the nursing positions, or the conditions under which the work was performed. Instead, plaintiffs’ allegations are a formulaic recitation of the language of the Equal Pay Act. See 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1) (stating that employers must “pay[ ] wages to employees of the opposite sex … for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility”). Although the pleading standards are minimal at the motion to dismiss stage, courts in this Circuit have dismissed complaints where, as here, plaintiffs merely recite the Equal Pay Act language without setting forth any factual allegations.

The court specifically rejected plaintiff’s argument that “the mere identification of the plaintiffs’ and comparators’ titles … is sufficient to state an Equal Pay Act claim,” i.e., “that they have satisfied the minimal pleading standards for an Equal Pay Act claim by simply noting that both plaintiff Pierre and his female comparators possessed the title of registered nurse supervisors,” noting that “[t]he Second Circuit and district courts in this Circuit disagree.”

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