Michigan Corrections Organization (MCO), Service Employees International Union, Local 526M et al v. State of Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC)
ORDER granting 33 Motion to Dismiss. Signed by District Judge John Corbett O'Meara. (WBar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION,
LOCAL 526M, et al.,
Case No. 13-13262
Hon. John Corbett O’Meara
STATE OF MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT
OF CORRECTIONS and DANIEL HEYNS,
acting in his official capacity as Director of
the Michigan Department of Corrections,
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS
Before the court is Defendants’ motion to dismiss, filed September 24, 2013.
Plaintiffs filed a response on October 15, 2013. Pursuant to L.R. 7.1(f)(2), the
court did not hear oral argument.
Plaintiffs are employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections and
their labor organization. Plaintiffs brought this action pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), to obtain prospective injunctive relief and recover
minimum wage and overtime compensation. Plaintiffs also seek relief pursuant to
the Michigan Minimum Wage Law of 1964, M.C.L. 408.381 et seq. Defendants
are the Michigan Department of Corrections and its Director, Daniel Heyns.
Defendants seek dismissal of Plaintiffs’ FLSA claims because they are
barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity. Defendants are correct that the
Eleventh Amendment, which prohibits suits against the State without its consent,
bars Plaintiffs’ FLSA claims for unpaid wages in federal court. See Wilson-Jones
v. Caviness, 99 F.3d 203, 205 (6th Cir. 1996), abrogation on other grounds
recognized by Kovacevich v. Kent State University, 224 F.3d 806, 816 (6th Cir.
2000); Close v. State of New York, 125 F.3d 31, 38-39 n.2 (2nd Cir. 1997); Aaron
v. State of Kansas, 115 F.3d 813, 817 (10th Cir. 1997) (“Indeed, every court that
has considered the issue has determined that Seminole Tribe precludes the federal
courts from hearing wage and overtime claims brought under the FLSA by a
citizen against its state.”); Wong-Opasi v. Tennessee State Univ., 2000 WL
1182827 (6th Cir. Aug. 16, 2000) (“Eleventh Amendment immunity bars suit under
the FLSA by private citizens against the state in federal court.”).
Plaintiffs’ claim for prospective injunctive relief is likewise barred because
the right to bring an action for injunctive relief under the FLSA “rests exclusively
with the United States Secretary of Labor.” Powell v. State of Florida, 132 F.3d
677, 678 (11th Cir. 1998) (citing 29 U.S.C. §§ 211(a), 216(b)). See also 29 U.S.C.
§ 217; Morelock v. NCR Corp., 546 F.2d 682, 688 (6th Cir. 1976), rev’d on other
grounds, 435 U.S. 911 (1978) (“[I]ndividuals are limited to seeking legal remedies
and are precluded from obtaining injunctive relief.”).
Plaintiffs argue that, pursuant to the Ex parte Young exception to Eleventh
Amendment immunity, they are entitled to seek declaratory relief against Director
Heyns. See Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123 (1908). In similar cases, however,
courts have held that declaratory relief is unavailable:
In this case, where an award of damages is barred by the Eleventh
Amendment and an injunction against prospective violations cannot
be sought by private plaintiffs under the FLSA, an action for
declaratory judgment regarding the lawfulness of the
Commonwealth’s policies or practices under the FLSA cannot
proceed in federal court. “[A] declaratory judgment is not available
when the result would be a partial ‘end run’ around the rest of the
Supreme Court's Eleventh Amendment jurisprudence, particularly its
limitations on the Ex parte Young doctrine.”
Vega Castro v. Puerto Rico, 43 F. Supp.2d 186, 192 (D. P.R. 1999) (quoting Mills
v. Maine, 118 F.3d 37, 55 (1st Cir. 1997) (holding no declaratory relief available
against a state in FLSA case)). As the First Circuit has explained, “the issuance of
a declaratory judgment in these circumstances would have much the same effect as
a full-fledged award of damages or restitution by the federal court, the latter kinds
of relief being of course prohibited by the Eleventh Amendment.” Mills, 118 F.3d
For these reasons, the court will dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims under the FLSA.
The court will also decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs’
claim under the Michigan Minimum Wage Act of 1964. See 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c)(3); Wong-Opasi, 2000 WL 1182827 at *2; Taylor v. First of America
Bank – Wayne, 973 F.2d 1284, 1287 (6th Cir. 1992) (“Generally, ‘if the federal
claims are dismissed before trial, . . . the state claims should be dismissed as
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ motion to dismiss is
s/John Corbett O’Meara
United States District Judge
Date: December 4, 2013
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon
counsel of record on this date, December 4, 2013, using the ECF system.
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