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.

Clarkson v. Alaska Airlines Inc

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

June 17, 2019

Y CLARKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ALASKA AIRLINES, INC., HORIZON AIR INDUSTRIES, INC., and ALASKA AIRLINES PENSION/BENEFITS ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS ALASKA AIRLINES, INC. AND HORIZON AIR INDUSTRIES, INC.'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          Thomas O. Rice Chief United States District Judge.

         BEFORE THE COURT is Defendant Alaska Airlines, Inc. and Horizon Air Industries, Inc.'s (“Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss. ECF No. 18. This matter was submitted without oral argument. The Court has reviewed the record and files herein, and is fully informed. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 18) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 7, 2019, Plaintiff Casey Clarkson initiated this class action against Defendants Alaska Airlines, Inc. (“Alaska”) and Horizon Air Industries, Inc. (“Horizon”) under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”), 38 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq.[1] ECF No. 1. The allegations raised in Plaintiff's Complaint revolve around one central issue-the reemployment position and benefits a service member is entitled when returning to a civilian job following periods of short-term military leave. Plaintiff asserts that Horizon and Alaska have adopted and applied certain policies to servicemember-pilots who take short-term military leave that violate USERRA's requirements and protections. This class action hinges on the alleged illegality of these policies.

         On April 17, 2019, Alaska and Horizon filed a Motion to Dismiss, which is presently before the Court. ECF No. 18. Alaska and Horizon move the Court to dismiss all counts against them for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). ECF No. 18. On May 21, 2019, Plaintiff submitted a response to Defendants' motion. ECF No. 24. Defendants timely filed a reply brief in support of their motion on June 11, 2019. ECF No. 29.

         FACTS

         The following facts are drawn from Plaintiff's Complaint and are accepted as true for purposes of the instant motion only. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007). In November 2013, Plaintiff was hired by Horizon to work as a turboprop passenger aircraft pilot. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 42. Plaintiff worked for Horizon until he was hired by Alaska to pilot a 737 passenger jet in November 2017. Id. at ¶ 13. Plaintiff is currently employed by Alaska. Id.

         While working as a commercial pilot for Horizon and Alaska, Plaintiff also served in the Washington Air National Guard. Id. Plaintiff's membership in the National Guard required him to take several periods of short-term military leave throughout his employment with both Defendants. Id. As noted, Horizon and Alaska have implemented certain policies regarding employees who take short-term military leave, discussed further below, which Plaintiff claims violate various provisions of USERRA.

         A. Horizon's “Virtual Credit” Policy

         Beginning with Horizon, Plaintiff identifies two interacting policies that allegedly result in several violations of USERRA. First, Horizon divides its turboprop pilots into the following three categories: Regular Line holders, Reduced Line holders, and Reserve Line holders. Id. at ¶ 39. According to Plaintiff, Regular Line holders make more money and have a more predictable schedule than Reserve or Reduced Line holders. Id. Regular Line holders receive a 70-hour per month minimum guarantee, meaning a Regular Line holder is guaranteed at least 70 hours of pay per month. To attain Regular Line holder status, a pilot must work at least 70 hours per month. Id. at ¶ 4. If a pilot works less than 70 hours per month, however, the pilot loses his Regular Line holder status and becomes a Reserve Line holder.

         Second, since at least May 2017, Horizon has used a “virtual credit” policy to determine the position a pilot returns to following periods of qualifying leave, including short-term military leave. at ¶¶ 3, 38. Under the “virtual credit” policy, Horizon credits its pilots 2.45 hours of work per day for each day of qualifying military leave. at ¶ 38. Plaintiff notes that Horizon does not, however, give its pilots full credit for the flight hours pilots would have flown during periods of military leave.

         Because he was unable to receive full credit for the hours he would have worked during periods of military leave, Plaintiff alleges that Horizon's “virtual credit” policy caused him to lose his Regular Line holder status. Plaintiff first went on military leave as a Horizon employee from June 8, 2017, through June 8, 2018. at ¶ 43. According to his Complaint, Plaintiff was on military leave for 22 days in June 2017 and 7 days in July 2017. at ¶¶ 43-44. When Plaintiff returned to work from military leave, Horizon credited Plaintiff 53.9 hours of work for June 2017 (22 days of leave x 2.45 “virtual credit” hours per day). at ¶ 43. However, when combined with the hours Plaintiff actually worked that month, the total amount of hours accrued for June 2017 was less than the Regular Line requirement of 70 hours per month. Horizon also credited Plaintiff 17.1 hours of work for July 2017 (7 days of military leave x 2.45 “virtual credit” hours per day). Id. at ¶ 44. Adding the “virtual credit” hours to those Plaintiff actually worked in July, Plaintiff again accrued less than 70 total hours that month. Id. Because Plaintiff did not reach the 70-hour threshold to remain a Regular Line holder in July 2017, Plaintiff “was accordingly demoted to Reserve Line holder in the following month.” Id. at ¶ 45.

         In August 2017, Plaintiff worked more than 70 hours and returned to his Regular Line holder status. Id. at ¶ 46. However, Plaintiff was again required to take short-term military leave the following month from September 26 to September 30, 2017. Id. Plaintiff was allocated 12.25 hours of virtual credit for the 5 days of military leave. Id. Receiving only 12.25 hours of virtual credit for that period of military leave, Plaintiff did not meet the 70-hour threshold to remain a Regular Line holder and was again demoted from Regular Line holder to Reserve Line holder. Id.

         In October 2017, Plaintiff was again required to take military leave. Id. at ¶ 47. However, unlike months prior, Plaintiff was able to meet the 70-hour threshold to maintain his Regular Line holder status by working extra days when he was not on military leave. Id. Accordingly, Plaintiff was able “to be a Regular Line holder in the following month.” Id.

         Plaintiff alleges that Horizon's act of demoting him from Regular Line holder status to Reserve Line holder status adversely affected various benefits of employment to which he was entitled, including his wages and work schedule in the months following the periods of military leave. Id. at ¶ 48. Plaintiff claims that other Horizon pilots who are subject to the same “virtual credit” policy have been similarly harmed by the policy, which results in pilots either being demoted from Regular Line holder to Reserve Line holder or working additional hours to avoid demotion as a result of their short-term military leave. Id. at ¶ 49.

         B. Horizon and Alaska's Non-Payment of Wages During Military Leave

         Next, Plaintiff asserts that both Horizon and Alaska apply a uniform policy and practice of refusing to pay servicemember-employees their regular wages or salaries during periods of short-term military leave, while paying the regular wages or salaries of its employees who take comparable forms of non-military leave, such as jury duty and bereavement leave. Id. at ¶¶ 55-57.

         During each year of his employment with Horizon from 2013 to 2017, Plaintiff took one or more periods of short-term military leave. Id. at ¶ 55. And during each period of military leave, Plaintiff alleges that Horizon applied its policy of refusing to pay regular wages to employees who take short-term military leave, even though other Horizon employees were eligible to receive their regular wages or salaries during jury duty leave, bereavement leave, or sick leave, consistent with Horizon's policies. Id. at ΒΆ 56. ...


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.