Cook et al v. Flight Services and Systems, Inc.
ORDER AND REASONS granting 25 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Plaintiffs are granted leave to amend their Complaint within 20 days of this Order to the extent that they can remedy the deficiencies identified herein. Signed by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo. (ecm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
FLIGHT SERVICES AND SYSTEMS INC.
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 25). For the
following reasons, the Motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs, Stanley Cook, Kerionna Bradley, Kennedy Prader, Darion
Winters, Terrance Bruster, Donald Johnson, Christian Flores, Damon
Perrilloux, II, Olivia Johnson, Lanisha Bruster, Rashard Johnson, Holdine
Pablo, and Darioen Buchanan, are employees or former employees of
Defendant Flight Services & Systems, Inc. They allege that Defendant has
violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by failing to pay them
minimum wage and overtime.
Specifically, Plaintiffs make two primary complaints about their
compensation and the compensation of other similarly situated employees.
First, they allege that they were not compensated for job-related training.
Second, they allege that Defendant “cut” their hours after the work was
complete due to policies aimed at:
requiring managers to attain a 20% profit margin;
not allowing employees to work more than 30 hours per week
so as to avoid the application of the Affordable Care Act; and
deducting for time spent on the job site engaged to wait or
when the defendant felt the work performed took longer than
Plaintiffs allege that because of this practice their paychecks did not reflect the
correct number of hours actually worked. Plaintiffs bring this collective action
on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated employees who consent
to join the litigation, pursuant to § 216(b) of the FLSA. Defendants have filed
the instant Motion to Dismiss, arguing that Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint
(hereinafter “Complaint”) fails to allege sufficient facts to support a claim
under the FLSA.
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must plead
enough facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”2 A claim is
“plausible on its face” when the pleaded facts allow the court to “[d]raw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” 3
A court must accept the complaint’s factual allegations as true and must “draw
all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff’s favor.”4 The court need not, however,
accept as true legal conclusions couched as factual allegations.5
Doc. 23 at 3.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 547 (2007)).
4 Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009).
5 Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 667.
To be legally sufficient, a complaint must establish more than a “sheer
possibility” that the plaintiff’s claims are true.6 “A pleading that offers ‘labels
and conclusions’ or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action’ ”
will not suffice.7
Rather, the complaint must contain enough factual
allegations to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence
of each element of the plaintiff’s claim.8
LAW AND ANALYSIS
An employer violates the FLSA if it fails to pay covered employees at
least one and one-half times their normal rate for hours worked in excess of 40
hours per week or fails to pay covered employees a minimum wage. 9 Thus, in
order to state a claim for unpaid overtime or minimum wages under the FLSA,
a plaintiff must plead: “(1) that there existed an employer-employee
relationship during the unpaid . . . periods claimed; (2) that the employee
engaged in activities within the coverage of the FLSA; (3) that the employer
violated the FLSA’s overtime or minimum wage requirements; and (4) the
amount of overtime or minimum wage compensation due.”10
Defendants ask the Court to dismiss this case because (1) Plaintiffs fail
to allege FLSA violations with sufficient particularity, and (2) Plaintiffs fail to
adequately allege the basis for a collective action. This Court will consider
each argument in turn.
Defendant argues that Plaintiffs’ Complaint does not adequately plead
Id. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
8 Lormand, 565 F.3d at 255–57.
9 29 U.S.C. §§ 206, 207.
10 Mejia v. Brothers Petroleum, LLC, No. 12-2842, 2015 WL 3619894, at *2 (E.D. La.
June 9, 2015) (quoting Johnson v. Heckmann Water Resources, Inc., 758 F.3d 627, 630 (5th
the third and fourth elements of a FLSA claim. Specifically, Defendant argues
that the Complaint fails to allege sufficient facts to state a claim under the
FLSA because it does not allege Plaintiffs’ approximate hours, rates of pay, or
date ranges worked. Defendant asserts that as a result, it lacks adequate
notice of the amount of overtime compensation Plaintiffs allege is due and
cannot determine what exemptions may apply. Plaintiffs argue that they were
not provided pay stubs and proof of the unilateral “cuts” are in the Defendant’s
timekeeping records, which are solely in Defendant’s possession.11
“Allegations of a complaint must be sufficient to ‘give the defendant fair
notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.’”12 This
notice requirement is satisfied in the FLSA context when the complaint
contains the “approximate date ranges, as well as the approximate number of
hours worked” for which the plaintiff claims he was under-compensated.13
Rule 8(a) does not require an FLSA complaint to be “replete with detailed
factual allegations” so long as it provides the defendant with fair notice.14
Here, Plaintiffs have failed to provide any type of information that would
Doc. 30 at 6. Plaintiffs also make much ado about prior litigation brought against
Defendant raising similar FLSA allegations. Doc. 30 at 4. Certainly, such extraneous
information cannot be considered at the motion to dismiss stage. “It is well-established that,
in deciding whether to grant a motion to dismiss, a district court may not ‘go outside the
complaint.’” Rodriguez v. Rutter, 310 F. App’x 623, 626 (5th Cir. 2009). Even so, the facts of
another matter and the settlement entered into therein do little to remedy the deficiencies of
Plaintiffs’ Complaint in this matter.
12 Kidwell v. Dig. Intelligence Systems, LLC, No. 13-4064, 2014 WL 4722706, at *4
(N.D. Tex. Sept. 22, 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
13 Mejia, 2015 WL 3619894, at *6 (holding that plaintiffs adequately pleaded
uncompensated overtime by alleging “that they worked approximately 70-80 hour [s] per
week before July of 2012, and then approximately 50 hours per week thereafter, without
receiving overtime pay”); England v. Administrators of the Tulane Educ. Fund, No. 16-3184,
2016 WL 3902595, *3 (E.D. La. July 19, 2016) (holding that a FLSA plaintiff had failed to
plead sufficient facts regarding the amount of overtime due where the complaint alleged that
the plaintiff “routinely worked overtime hours” and that the employer had paid some
overtime but still owed for “numerous hours”).
14 See Hoffman v. Cemex, Inc., No. 09-3144, 2009 WL 4825224, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 8,
put Defendant on notice and provide Defendant with enough information to
search its own records to more accurately investigate Plaintiffs’ claims, e.g.,
date ranges, hours worked, or rate of pay.15 Although it “cannot be the case
that a plaintiff must plead specific instances of unpaid overtime before being
allowed to proceed to discovery to access the employer’s records,”16 it is not
unfair or burdensome to require some factual allegations.17 Here, Plaintiffs
have not bothered to supply even a factual context from the memories or
experiences of being denied a minimum wage and/or overtime in violation of
FLSA.18 The Complaint likewise does not indicate the hours worked, wage
earned, or even so much as a year range of when the thirteen named plaintiffs
worked for Defendant. As such, Plaintiffs fail to allege their FLSA violations
with sufficient particularity.
Collective Action Allegations
Defendant next argues that Plaintiffs’ Complaint fails to adequately
plead an FLSA collective action. The FLSA authorizes a single employee or
group of employees to bring a collective action against their employer to recover
unpaid overtime or minimum wages on their own behalf and on behalf of other
“similarly situated” employees.19 A successful FLSA complaint must allege
facts supporting the conclusion that all potential plaintiffs were “victims of a
England, 2016 WL 6520146, at *3–4; Coleman v. John Moore Services, Inc., No. 132090, 2014 WL 51290, at *4 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 7, 2014).
16 England, 2016 WL 6520146, at *3–4 (quoting Solis v. Time Warner Cable San
Antonio, L.P., No. 10-231, 2010 WL 2756800, at *2 (W.D. Tex. July 13, 2010)) (internal
17 Coleman, 2014 WL 51290, at *4.
18 Id. (“[I]t is employees’ memory and experience that lead them to claim in federal
court that they have been denied overtime in violation of the FLSA in the first place. Our
standard requires that plaintiffs draw on those resources in providing complaints with
sufficiently developed factual allegations. Similarly, [plaintiff] should be able to use his
memory to flesh out the complaint with a factual context, before discovery has taken place.”)
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
19 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); Johnson v. Big Lots Stores, Inc., 561 F. Supp. 2d 567, 571 (E.D.
common policy or plan that violated the law.”20 “Plaintiffs need only show their
positions are similar, not identical.”21 Moreover, “[a]s applied to a collective
action under the FLSA, a 12(b)(6) motion should not succeed if the complaint
gives the defendant fair notice of the putative class.”22
In England v. Administrators of the Tulane Educational Fund, the
plaintiff’s proposed putative class was “comprised of all similarly situated
hourly, non-exempt employees employed by Tulane . . . .”23
plaintiff stated that the class members would be hourly employees, he did not
provide any job descriptions of the proposed class members. The court held
that the complaint’s allegations did not give the defendants fair notice of the
putative class because it did not provide “details about or descriptions of the
similarly situated parties, along with sufficient facts to show that they were
subject to the same pay provisions.”24
Here too, Plaintiffs have failed to give Defendant any details or
descriptions of the similarly situated parties they purport to bring their claim
on behalf. The Complaint describes the potential putative class as, “all persons
who have worked as non-exempt employees for Defendant and who were not
paid for all hours actually worked under forty (40), and for any overtime
compensation for all hours actually worked for over forty (40) in a workweek.”25
This broadly defined class fails to give Defendant fair notice.
Complaint does not specifically identify any potential class members, describe
England, 2016 WL 6520146, at *4 (quoting Wischnewsky v. Coastal Gulf & Int’l,
Inc., No. 12-2277, 2013 WL 1867119, at *4 (E.D. La. May 2, 2013)).
21 Id. (citing Creech v. Holiday CVS, LLC, No. 11-46, 2012 WL 4483384, at *1 (M.D.
La. Sept. 28, 2012)).
22 Id. (citing Flores v. Act Event Servs., Inc., 55 F. Supp. 3d 928, 940 (N.D. Tex. 2014)
(internal quotations omitted)).
25 Doc. 23 at ¶ 7.
the positions they held or work they performed, or identify how they are
similarly situated to Plaintiffs. Further, the Complaint does not even identify
the named Plaintiffs or the positions they held while working for Defendant.
Accordingly, the allegations of the Complaint fail to give Defendants fair notice
of the putative class, and those allegations are dismissed.
For the foregoing reasons, the Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs are granted leave to amend their Complaint within 20 days of this
Order to the extent that they can remedy the deficiencies identified herein.
New Orleans, Louisiana this 20th day of April, 2017.
JANE TRICHE MILAZZO
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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