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Pereira v. JRA Services LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 30, 2018


         SECTION "L" (3)

          ORDER & REASONS

         Before the Court is a 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants JRV Services, LLC and Juana Vargas. R. Doc. 9. Plaintiff Rolando Pereira opposes. R. Doc. 12. Having considered the parties' briefs and the applicable law, the Court now issues this Order & Reasons.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Rolando Pereira brings this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated to recover overtime wages against Defendants JRV Services, LLC (“JRV”), PRA-SE Construction, LP (“PRA-SE”), and Juana Vargas (“Vargas”).

         Defendant JRV is a residential and commercial subcontractor that provides labor for construction projects in Louisiana, owned by Defendant Vargas. PRA-SE, a commercial construction company, engaged JRV to provide labor for its jobsites. Plaintiff alleges that he was hired by PRA-SE in 2014 and worked as a construction laborer for Defendants until March of 2018. During this time, Plaintiff claims he worked, on average, 45-54 hours per week, and Defendants failed to pay one-and-a-half times his regular hourly rate for all hours over forty.

         Defendants JRV and Vargas now move the Court to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them under Rule 12(b)(6). R. Doc. 9. Specifically, Defendants contend that Plaintiff has failed to (1) allege the specific time period for which he claims he was undercompensated; (2) plead facts sufficient to establish that JRV and Vargas qualify as his “employer” under the FLSA; and (3) sufficiently allege facts to show that he is similarly situated to the putative class members.

         II. LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Rule 12(b)(6)

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit a defendant to seek a dismissal of a complaint based on the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief.” Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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 district court must construe facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A court “do[es] not accept as true conclusory allegations, unwarranted factual inferences, or legal conclusions.” Plotkin v. IP Axess Inc., 407 F.3d 690, 696 (5th Cir. 2005).

         B. The Fair Labor Standards Act

         The FLSA requires “employers” to pay covered employees at least one and one-half times their normal rate for hours worked in excess of forty per week. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). To state a claim for unpaid overtime wages, a plaintiff must plead “(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 requirements; and (4) the amount of overtime compensation due.” Johnson v. Heckmann Water Resources, Inc., 758 F.3d 627, 630 (5th Cir. 2014). JRV and Vargas argue that Plaintiff inadequately pleads elements (1) and (4), and that Plaintiff fails to adequately plead a collective action.

         a. Employee-Employer Relationship

         Under the FLSA, “employer” is defined 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 Fifth Circuit determines employer status under the “economic reality” test, considering whether the putative employer “(1) possessed the power to hire and fire the employees, (2) supervised and controlled employee work schedules or conditions of employment, (3) determined the rate and method of payment, and (4) maintained employment records.” Williams v. Henagan, 595 F.3d 610, 620 (5th Cir. 2010). The Court must consider the totality of the circumstances and the economic reality of the overall relationship, and all four factors need not be present in every case. Gray v. Powers, 673 F.3d 352, 357 (5th Cir. 2012). “The dominant theme in the case law ...

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