Lejeaun et al v. Waste Connections of Louisiana, Inc. et al
ORDER AND REASONS that Defendant's 37 Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part as stated herein. Signed by Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle on 1/10/2018. (cms)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
LEJEAUN CELESTINE, ET AL.
WASTE CONNECTIONS OF
LOUISIANA, INC., ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendant Waste Connections of Louisiana,
Inc., Defendant Waste Connections US, Inc., and Defendant IESI LA
Landfill Corporation’s Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 37), and
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED
in part and DENIED in part.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
allegations regarding allegedly illegal employment practices by
Defendants, Waste Connections of Louisiana Inc. (“Defendant WCL”),
Progressive Waste Solutions of LA Inc. (“Defendant PWS”), Waste
Connections US Inc. (“Defendant WCUS”), and IESI LA Landfill
Corporation (“Defendant IESI”); collectively referred to herein as
By separate Order and Reasons, a third and former plaintiff,
Lejeaun Celestine, was dismissed from this case.
Plaintiff Dawson was hired by Defendant PWS in August 2015,
as a waste collector. Rec. Docs. 28 and 37. Dawson alleges that
after an anonymous complaint to Defendant PWS regarding possible
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) violations for inappropriate pay
practices, Defendant PWS informed him that they would conduct an
investigation. Rec. Doc. 28. In December 2015, Defendant PWS
terminated Plaintiff Dawson’s employment. Rec. Docs. 28 and 37-1.
Plaintiff Monroe was hired by Defendant PWS in April 2016, as
the Operations Manager; a salaried, exempt employee. Id. On June
1, 2016, shortly after Plaintiff Monroe’s hire, Defendants PWS and
WCUS merged. Id. Plaintiff Monroe contends that after said merger,
Defendants WCUS and PWS became joint employers. Rec. Doc. 28.
Plaintiff Monroe further alleges that he was retaliated against by
Defendants PWS and WCUS after he complained of Defendants’ alleged
terminated by Defendant WCUS on March 21, 2017. Id.
The instant Motion to Dismiss seeks to dismiss Plaintiffs’
claims against Defendant WCL, Defendant WCUS, and Defendant IESI.
Rec. Doc. 37. Defendants allege that Plaintiffs’ complaint 1) fails
to provide proper notice under Rule 8(a), 2) fails to properly
allege individual or enterprise coverage under the FLSA, and 3)
between Plaintiffs and Defendants. Id.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows
a party to move for dismissal of a complaint for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted. Such a motion is rarely
granted because it is viewed with disfavor. See Lowrey v. Tex. A
& M Univ. Sys., 117 F.3d 242, 247 (5th Cir. 1997) (quoting Kaiser
Aluminum & Chem. Sales, Inc. v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 677 F.2d
1045, 1050 (5th Cir. 1982)).
When reviewing a motion to dismiss, courts must accept all
favorable to the non-moving party. Baker v. Putnal, 75 F.3d 190,
196 (5th Cir. 1996). However, “[f]actual allegations must be enough
to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). “To survive a motion
to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on
(2009))(internal quotation marks omitted). The Supreme Court in
Iqbal explained that Twombly promulgated a “two-pronged approach”
to determine whether a complaint states a plausible claim for
relief. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950. First, courts must identify
those pleadings that, “because they are no more than conclusions,
are not entitled to the assumption of truth.” Id. Legal conclusions
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere
conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. at 1949.
Upon identifying the well-pleaded factual allegations, courts
“assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly
give rise to an entitlement of relief.” Id. at 1950. A claim has
facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 1949. This
is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.
Additionally, an employer violates the FLSA if it fails to
pay covered employees at least one and one-half times their normal
hourly rate for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week. 29
U.S.C. §207. An employee bringing an action for unpaid overtime
compensation must first demonstrate by a preponderance of the
evidence: (1) that there existed an employer-employee relationship
during the unpaid overtime periods claimed; (2) that the employee
engaged in activities within the coverage of the FLSA; (3) that
the employer violated the FLSA's overtime wage requirements; and
(4) the amount of overtime compensation due. Johnson v. Heckmann
Water Res. (CVR), Inc., 758 F.3d 627, 630 (5th Cir. 2014).
A. Plaintiff’s failed to Allege Enterprise Coverage
The FLSA provides that:
[N]o employer shall employ any of his employees who
in any workweek is engaged in commerce or in the
production of goods for commerce, or is employed in an
enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of
goods for commerce, for a workweek longer than forty
hours unless such employee receives compensation for his
employment in excess of the hours above specified at a
rate not less than one and one-half times the regular
rate at which he is employed.
29 U.S.C.A. § 207 (Emphasis added). It follows that a Plaintiff
coverage.” Martin v. Bedell, 955 F.2d 1029, 1032 (5th Cir. 1992).
“Either individual or enterprise coverage is enough to invoke FLSA
Plaintiffs concede that they failed to allege enterprise
coverage. In their response to the instant motion, Plaintiffs admit
“[t]o the extent Plaintiffs failed to allege enterprise coverage,
specifically that each Defendant is an enterprise engaged in
$500,000.” Rec. Doc. 46 at 13. Nevertheless, on November 20, 2017,
after oral hearing, Magistrate Judge Knowles denied Plaintiffs’
motion to amend/correct their already second amended complaint.
Rec. Doc. 57. The Court found that Plaintiff’s failed to properly
allege any injuries at the hands of Defendant IESI. Id. The Court
also found that any further amendments to the complaint, to include
Defendant IESI or to allege enterprise coverage was futile. Id.
B. Plaintiff’s failed to Allege Employer-Employee Relationship
1. Plaintiff Dawson
As provided above, in order to pursue an FLSA action against
any of the Defendants, Plaintiff Dawson must sufficiently allege
an employer-employee relationship. The FLSA defines an “employer”
as “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an
employer in relation to an employee.” 29 U.S.C. § 203. As a result,
Defendant PWS is the only Defendant with which Plaintiff Dawson
sufficiently alleges any employer-employee relationship. See Rec.
Doc. 28. Defendant PWS terminated Plaintiff Dawson’s employment in
December 2015. Id. Defendant PWS and Defendant WCUS did not merge
until June 2016—well after Plaintiff Dawson’s termination. As a
result, Plaintiff Dawson’s FLSA complaint establishes that he was
an employee of Defendant PWS. In fact, Plaintiffs’ Second Amended
Complaint (Rec. Doc. 28) concedes that, “Celestine, Dawson, and
other persons similarly situation were originally employed solely
by Defendant Progressive Waste Solutions of LA, Inc. as waste
collectors.” Rec. Doc. 28 at 4 (emphasis added).
Defendant PWS was Plaintiff Dawson’s only “employer” for the
purposes of this FLSA action.
2. Plaintiff Monroe
possibly Defendant WCUS after the June 1, 2016 merger of both
companies. Plaintiff Monroe alleges the following claims against
the Defendants: 1) an FLSA retaliation claim, and 2) a claim under
the Louisiana whistleblower statute.
Both of Plaintiff Monroe’s claims require he sufficiently
Defendants. The FLSA defines an “employer” as “any person acting
directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation
to an employee.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). The proper test of employment
in the Fifth Circuit for an FLSA claim is whether an alleged
employer “(1) possessed the power to hire and fire the employees,
conditions of employment, (3) determined the rate and method of
Louisiana Children's Med. Ctr., No. CV 16-14291, 2017 WL 1399619,
at *2 (E.D. La. Apr. 19, 2017). Under the Louisiana Whistleblower
Statute, Louisiana law dictates that an employer “means a person,
association, legal or commercial entity, the state, or any state
agency, board, commission, or political subdivision of the state
compensation of any kind to an employee.” La. Stat. Ann. § 23:302.
While from the above-mentioned facts, it is arguable that
Plaintiff Monroe alleges an employee relationship with Defendant
PWS and possibly Defendant WCUS—post merger, Plaintiff Monroe
fails to sufficiently allege an employer-employee relationship
with any of the remaining defendants. Further, mere corporate
corporate veil under Delaware law. See Fletcher v. Atex, Inc., 68
F.3d 1451, 1457 (2d Cir. 1995). Accordingly,
IT IS ORDERED that all claims by Plaintiff Dawson against
Defendant Waste Connections of Louisiana Inc., Defendant IESI LA
Landfill Corporation, and Defendant Waste Connections US Inc. are
DISMISSED without prejudice.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that all claims by Plaintiff Monroe
Corporation are DISMISSED without
Judgment will be entered unless a timely and well-grounded
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 10th day of January, 2018.
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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