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Lejeaun v. Waste Connections of Louisiana, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

January 10, 2018

LEJEAUN CELESTINE, ET AL.
v.
WASTE CONNECTIONS OF LOUISIANA, INC., ET AL

         SECTION "B"(3)

          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 Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition (Rec. Doc. 46). For the following reasons, IT IS ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiffs Cne Dawson and Jerry Monroe[1] bring forth 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 U.S. Inc. (“Defendant WCUS”), and IESI LA Landfill Corporation (“Defendant IESI”); collectively referred to herein as “Defendants.” 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 illegal pay practices. Id. Plaintiff Monroe was ultimately 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) fails to adequately plead an employer-employee relationship 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 well-pleaded facts as true and view them in the light most 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 its face.” Gonzales v. Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009)(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (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 “must be supported by factual allegations.” Id. “Threadbare 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 allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 1949. This is a “context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id. The plaintiffs must “nudge their claims across the line from 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 ...

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