FROM CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, ORLEANS PARISH NO. 2015-07435,
DIVISION "J" Honorable Paula A. Brown, Judge
Kenneth C. Bordes ATTORNEY AT LAW Kara Anne Larson Equal
Access Legal COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT.
E. Griffitts LITTLER MENDELSON COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLEE/TOYS R US, INC.
composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Roland L. Belsome,
Judge Daniel L. Dysart, Judge Rosemary Ledet, Judge Sandra
L. Belsome Judge.
Dillon appeals the trial court's sustaining of an
exception of no cause of action in favor of Toys R Us, Inc.
For the following reasons, we reverse and remand the matter
for further proceedings.
Dillon was an employee of Babies R Us, which is owned by Toys
R Us, Inc. She maintains that she was caused to resign due to
acts of harassment and discrimination against her. Following
her resignation, Ms. Dillon filed a lawsuit alleging multiple
violations of the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law as
provided for in La. R.S. 23:301 et seq. In addition
to those claims, she also alleges acts of defamation,
battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
failure to timely pay her final wages in violation of the
Louisiana Wage Payment Act.
Dillon filed a Rule to Show Cause as to her claims for
penalty wages, interest, attorney's fees and costs
relating to Toys R Us's violation of the Louisiana Wage
Payment Act, La. R.S. 23:631 and 632. In response to the Rule
to Show Cause, Toys R Us filed an exception of no cause of
action. The trial court sustained the exception of no cause
of action and dismissed Ms. Dillon's claims under the
Louisiana Wage Payment Act with prejudice. This appeal
appeal, Ms. Dillon argues that her petition for damages
properly asserts a valid cause of action under La. R.S.
23:631 et seq.
Industrial Companies, Inc v. Durbin, the Louisiana
Supreme Court succinctly outlined the review of a lower
court's sustaining of an exception of no cause of action.
The function of the peremptory exception of no cause of
action is to question whether the law extends a remedy
against the defendant to anyone under the factual allegations
of the petition. The peremptory exception of no cause of
action is designed to test the legal sufficiency of the
petition by determining whether the particular plaintiff is
afforded a remedy in law based on the facts alleged in the
pleading. The exception is triable on the face of the
petition and, for the purpose of determining the issues
raised by the exception, the well-pleaded facts in the
petition must be accepted as true. In reviewing a trial
court's ruling sustaining an exception of no cause of
action, the appellate court and this court should conduct a
de novo review because the exception raises a question of law
and the trial court's decision is based only on the
sufficiency of the petition. Simply stated, a petition should
not be dismissed for failure to state a cause of action
unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove
no set of facts in support of any claim which would entitle
him to relief. Every reasonable interpretation must be
accorded the language of the petition in favor of maintaining
its sufficiency and affording the plaintiff the opportunity
of presenting evidence at trial.
case, the exception of no cause of action concerns only the
wage claims under La R.S. 23:631 et
seq. The substance of Appellee's exception
of no cause of action is that La. R.S. 23:631 expressly
states that the employee must be "discharged" or
"resign" in order for the statute to apply.
Appellee further maintains that Ms. Dillon's petition
fails to plead either of those actions occurred. Rather, the
petition states that due to the alleged harassment, Ms.
Dillon could not return to her job at Babies R Us and that
constituted a "constructive discharge." Appellee
contends that "constructive discharge" is not
covered under the statute and therefore Ms. Dillon has failed
to state a cause of action under the statutes.
reviewing the correctness of the trial court's ruling,
the focus is on whether the law provides a remedy against the
particular defendant in this case. In Ms. Dillon's
petition, she asserts a cause of action for "Failure to
Make Timely Payment of Wages." La. R.S. 23:631dictates
the manner in which employers must pay an employee owed wages
upon the termination of their employment. The statute reads
in pertinent part:
A. (1)(a) Upon the discharge of any laborer
or other employee of any kind whatever, it shall be the duty
of the person employing such laborer or other employee to pay
the amount then due under the terms of employment, whether
the employment is by the hour, day, week, or month, on or
before the next regular payday or no ...