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Pierre v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

September 18, 2017





         In December 2016, this Court held a bench trial of Plaintiffs Barbara St. Pierre’s and Lynn Guillotte’s jury-waived claims of violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act, the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Law, and Breach of Contract. The Court now issues its findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(a).

         Findings of Facts

         Based on trial testimony and admitted exhibits, I find as follows. Barbara St. Pierre and Lynn Guillotte are former employees of the CVS-branded store located at 197 Boston Turnpike, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts (Store No. 8). St. Pierre was employed at Store No. 8 from April 2011 – July 2015, and Guillotte from July 2001 – March 2013. Both St. Pierre and Guillotte were pharmacy technicians (“PTs”) – hourly employees responsible for production of prescriptions, entering prescriptions into the system, and delivering customer service.

         LEARNet Training Requirements

         CVS Pharmacy requires all PTs, including St. Pierre and Guillotte, to regularly complete mandatory training courses through LEARNet, an online “learning management system.” LEARNet administers training courses covering a variety of topics from new computer systems to changes in the law. LEARNet tracks the courses completed by each employee, including the date and time at which training was completed, and in some instances, the dates and times of failed attempts to complete training. LEARNet neither records the length of time taken to complete a training activity, nor the incidence of training effort that did not result in an attempt to complete a course. LEARNet is designed to allow users to complete trainings from any location with internet access. There is no dispute that training conducted on the LEARNet system is compensable time as a matter of law.

         CVS Time and Compensation Policies

         It is CVS policy that, as hourly employees, all PTs must record and report all time worked, and must review and sign their time cards to verify that they have been paid for all hours worked. It is also CVS policy that all PTs must be paid for time spent on LEARNet, whether done at the store, or remotely. It is a violation of CVS policy for PTs to work “off-the-clock” (i.e., uncompensated), or for anyone to instruct or encourage another employee to perform uncompensated work. This policy is communicated to pharmacy and store managers through a mandatory LEARNet training module, however, there was no equivalent training module for PTs regarding whether they were entitled to compensation for time spent on LEARNet training outside of scheduled shifts, or how to be paid for such training. Instead, the CVS timekeeping and payroll policies are conveyed to PTs via the employee handbook and the “policy portal.” The version of the policy that the PT receives, “Policy on Timekeeping and Payroll Practices,” which discusses time and compensation policies for “work,” does not expressly mention training time or LEARNet, does not specify whether such time is compensable as “work,” and does not indicate how an employee is to receive compensation for time spent on training outside of a scheduled shift at the store. The CVS handbook specifies that an employee who is directed or encouraged to incorrectly report their hours worked should report the incident to [his/her] supervisor, Human Resource Business Partner, or the CVS Ethics Hotline.

         Store Budget

         Store No. 8 was provided with a budget for the total number of employee work hours for the month. To stay within its assigned budget, the store had to limit the number of total hours worked by PTs. Hours spent on LEARNet training were included in the budgeted hours, whether done at or away from the store. Store No. 8 consistently used all, or nearly all, of its budgeted hours every week for scheduled shift work, so that there were not sufficient hours available to schedule off-shift training. Store No. 8 had a particularly busy pharmacy, and PTs typically did not have time available to work on LEARNet during their scheduled shifts.

         Reporting Time Spent on LEARNet

         Pharmacy technicians are required to log into a Point-of-Sale (POS) system in the store at the beginning of their shift, and logout at the end of a shift. If a PT does a LEARNet training module during their shift, they are paid for that time because they are already “on the clock.” While it appears technologically plausible for CVS to electronically track time spent in LEARNet and automatically enter that time into the payroll system, the system was not set up to do so.[1]

         The only way for a PT to be paid for hours spent on LEARNet training outside of Store No. 8 was to report the time to their Lead PT, have the Lead PT enter it into the schedule, and ensure that the store manager or shift supervisor entered those hours into the payroll system. Only store managers (and not the pharmacy manager or Lead PT) can input the time into the CVS payroll system. This was established through the testimony of pharmacy manager Chris Moses and store manager Terry Shea-Gehlert. Chris Moses testified that a PT must report LEARNet time done outside of a scheduled shift to their Lead PT, and that, as a pharmacy manager, he would not be the person responsible for receiving that information from PTs or ensuring that the time was compensated. If a PT were to report the time to him, he would tell the Lead PT who would then report it to the shift supervisor, because all payroll was handled by the “front store” only. Here “front store” means the CVS store within which the Pharmacy operates. As pharmacy manager, he would not check to make sure that the hours were ever recorded. Moses acknowledged that he was in charge of making sure mandatory training was completed, but claimed that it was the store manager’s responsibility to make sure that the hours were reported, recorded, and paid. Moses knew that St. Pierre was completing LEARNet training at home, but never verified that she was paid for that time. Moses stated that this was the regular way pharmacy managers operated.

         Store manager Terry Shea-Gehlert testified that it was St. Pierre’s responsibility to report mandatory LEARNet time, and the Lead PT’s responsibility to add that time to the schedule and send it to Shea-Gehlert. At that point, Shea-Gehlert would enter the time into payroll. Shea-Gehlert knew that St. Pierre did at least some LEARNet training at home, but testified that it was not her responsibility to follow up and make sure that St. Pierre was paid for the time. The Court notes that there was a hierarchy of supervisory and managerial employees variously responsible for scheduling work (including training), ensuring that training was completed, and managing payroll and payroll budget. The most senior representative of CVS at Store No. 8, the Store Manager, was both a) aware that at least one employee performed training outside their regular shift, and b) was directly responsible for compensation by entering time into the payroll system.

         CVS knew PTs completed LEARNet training outside of scheduled shifts

         From a corporate standpoint, CVS knew that PTs completed mandatory trainings outside of their schedule shifts, from home or another non-CVS location, and had designed the LEARNet system with that purpose in mind. It was common enough that LEARNet training was done outside of the store that CVS had a mandatory training module for managers covering the topic to ensure PTs were paid for that time.

         At Store No. 8, both store and pharmacy managers knew mandatory trainings on LEARNet were done by employees outside of their scheduled shifts, from home or another non-CVS location. Both store and pharmacy managers instructed employees to complete LEARNet training at home when there was insufficient time for the employee to complete the training during his/her shift at the store. On occasion, CVS required a course to be completed before a PT could return to work for his/her next shift.

         In addition to managers, Lead PTs instructed PTs to complete mandatory LEARNet training at home when there was not enough time to complete training during their shift. Lead PTs served as first line supervisors responsible for scheduling PTs’ shifts, assigning PTs to particular stations or tasks in the pharmacy, overseeing the work they did, ensuring PTs completed mandatory trainings, and adding PTs hours, including training hours worked off-shift, to the schedule so they could be paid. Because CVS did not provide company email addresses to PTs, Lead PTs also served as the primary point of communication for the PTs. St. Pierre testified that she was specifically told to ...

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