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Cabahug v. Tucker

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 19, 2017


         SECTION: A (4)



         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Rec. Doc. 16) filed by Defendants. Plaintiffs oppose the Motion. (Rec. Doc. 21). The Motion, set for submission on April 19, 2017, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs, Cherissa Cabahug and Gina Ramos, assert claims against their former employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), Louisiana's Last Paycheck Act law, Louisiana's Timely Payment law, and for invasion of privacy. (Rec. Doc. 1). Plaintiffs allege that Defendants failed to compensate Plaintiffs for services performed, which Plaintiffs requested from Defendants following their termination in 2016. On January 9, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint against Defendants. Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State Claim alleging that Plaintiffs' Complaint does not satisfy the minimum standards to plead an FLSA claim. (Rec. Doc. 21).

         II. Analysis

         The central issue in a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is whether, in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the Complaint states a valid claim for relief. Gentilello v. Rege, 627 F.3d 540, 544 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Doe v. MySpace, Inc., 528 F.3d 413, 418 (5th Cir. 2008). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to "state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face." Id. (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009)). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. The Court does not accept as true "conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions." Id. (quoting Plotkin v. IP Axess, Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005)). Legal conclusions must be supported by factual allegations. Id. (quoting Ashroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires that plaintiffs give a “short plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has noted that the requirements of Rule 8(a) are relaxed and minimal, and fulfilled by simply giving defendants fair notice of a plaintiff's claim and the grounds on which it rests. General Electric Capital Corp. v. Posey, 415 F.3d 391, 396-97 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 512 (2002)). Additionally, in this Circuit, neither the notice requirements under Rule 8(a)(2) nor the dismissal standards under Rule 12(b)(6) “require a claimant to set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim.” Williams v. United Credit Plan of Chalmette, Inc., 526 F.2d 713, 714 (5th Cir. 1976).

         First, Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' FLSA claims should be dismissed because they don't allege that Defendants failed to pay minimum wage or overtime. Second, Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' Fair Labor Standards Act claims should be dismissed because they fail to allege any facts to show FLSA coverage. Finally, should the Court dismiss Plaintiffs' FLSA claims, Defendants argue that the Court should decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' state-law claims.

         a. Fair Labor Standards Act - Minimum Wage and Overtime ]

         Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' Complaint fails to state a valid claim for relief, arguing that Plaintiffs' Complaint does not allege that Defendants failed to pay them minimum wage or overtime. Plaintiffs contend that their Complaint sufficiently alleges a valid FLSA claim, and that FLSA plaintiffs are not required to plead a precise amount for unpaid overtime wages.

         To state a claim for unpaid overtime 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 wage requirements; and 4) the amount of overtime compensation due.” Johnson v. Heckmann Water Resources, Inc., 758 F.3d 627, 630 (5th Cir. 2014).

         Defendants argue that Plaintiffs fail to state a claim for unpaid overtime wages or minimum wages because their Complaint does not reference unpaid overtime or failure to pay minimum wage. (Rec. Doc. 24) (emphasis added). Instead, “both Plaintiffs allege that defendants reduced their salaries, withheld monthly salary, and deducted wages.” (Rec. Doc. 24). Defendants are correct in their assertion that Plaintiffs' response to Defendants' motion alleges that they seek “all unpaid overtime wages, ” while their Complaint only states that they demand their “unpaid wages.” (Rec. Doc. 21, Pg. 2-3) (Rec. Doc. 1, Pg. 11). However, as Defendants themselves state, at the very least Plaintiffs should be required to amend their Complaint to adequately allege FLSA violations.

         The Court can grant the plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint “when justice so requires.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). District courts have discretion to grant leave to amend, but the federal rules favor granting leave over denying it. See Jamieson By & Through Jamieson v. Shaw, 772 F.2d 1205, 1208 (5th Cir. 1985). Justifications for denying leave to amend include “undue delay, bad faith, dilatory motive, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by prior amendment, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and the futility of the amendment.” Id. Allowing a plaintiff to amend a Complaint is “futile” when “the amended Complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.” Stripling v. Jordan Prod. Co., LLC, 234 F.3d 863, 873 (5th Cir. 2000). Here, there is no indication that allowing Plaintiffs to amend their Complaint would be futile. Plaintiffs' Complaint specifically alleges that Defendants violated the FLSA and gave facts detailing Defendants' alleged violation, but simply fails to include the word ove ...

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