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Buck v. Lindsey Management Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division

July 15, 2014

ALTON BUCK, Plaintiff,
v.
LINDSEY MANAGEMENT CO., Defendant.

ORDER

KRISTINE G. BAKER, District Judge.

Plaintiff Alton Buck brings this action against defendant Lindsey Management Co. ("Lindsey") alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 216 et seq., and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act ("AMWA"), Ark. Code Ann. § 11-4-201 et seq. Before the Court is Lindsey's motion to dismiss Mr. Buck's complaint (Dkt. No. 7). After Lindsey filed its motion, Mr. Buck filed his first amended complaint within the time for amending as a matter of right under Rule 15(a)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. No. 11). Accordingly, Lindsey's motion to dismiss is denied as moot (Dkt. No. 7).

Also before the Court is Lindsey's motion to dismiss Mr. Buck's first amended complaint and, in the alternative, motion for a more definite statement (Dkt. No. 13). Mr. Buck has responded (Dkt. No. 15). Lindsey has not replied or requested leave to file a reply. For the reasons below, the Court grants in part and denies in part Lindsey's motion to dismiss and denies the motion for a more definitive statement (Dkt. No. 13).

I. Background

Mr. Buck states in his first amended complaint that Lindsey hired him in 2005 to perform the duties of "pro shop attendant" at the Eagle Hills golf course in Pulaski County, Arkansas, one of Lindsey's places of business. Mr. Buck states that, when he was hired, Lindsey paid him on an hourly basis, and he received overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of the applicable limitations under the FLSA and state law. Mr. Buck asserts that his everyday duties included selling pro shop merchandise to golfers, receiving merchandise, stocking and restocking the pro shop inventory, answering telephone calls, scheduling and renting golf carts to golfers and handing out golf cart keys, and performing certain janitorial work (Dkt. No. 11, ¶5).

Mr. Buck claims that, in 2007, Lindsey changed the method of Mr. Buck's pay from hourly with overtime to salary without overtime, even though his job duties and responsibilities did not change in any significant manner ( Id., ¶ 6). Mr. Buck asserts that he never performed supervisory work for Lindsey, never had authority to hire or fire other employees, never performed administrative or managerial duties for Lindsey, and did not ever meet any of the other requirements to be qualified properly, or rightfully considered, as an exempt employee under the overtime provisions of the FLSA or state law. Mr. Buck alleges that Lindsey intentionally and willfully implemented the compensation change with reckless indifference to the consequences or with knowledge that it violated the law. He asserts that he is entitled to claim back-pay overtime for a period of three years ( Id., ¶ 8). Mr. Buck alleges that he worked in excess of 3, 000 hours of unpaid overtime, and he lists in detail the weekly total hours and overtime hours he allegedly worked ( Id., ¶¶ 7-9).

Mr. Buck also alleges that Lindsey failed to comply with the recordkeeping requirements of "29 U.S.C. § 516.2" by failing to maintain records pertaining to the time and day of the week when employee workweeks begin; total hours worked each workweek; total daily or weekly straight-time earnings; and total overtime earnings for the workweeks. As discussed below, the Court construes this as an intended reference to 29 C.F.R. § 516.2.

II. Motion to Dismiss

Lindsey moves to dismiss Mr. Buck's first amended complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must satisfy the pleading requirement of Rule 8(a)(2), which requires "a short and plain statement of the claim that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); see Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009). "Specific facts are not necessary; the statement need only give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)) (internal quotation marks omitted). However, the 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 Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id. (citations omitted). "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 plausibility standard requires a plaintiff to show at the pleading stage that success on the merits is more than a sheer possibility.'" Braden, 588 F.3d at 594 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

Lindsey argues that Mr. Buck has not sufficiently pleaded that Lindsey is his employer within the meaning of the FLSA, failed to plead sufficiently FLSA coverage, failed to plead a facially plausible claim for overtime violations, and failed to plead facts in support of his allegations of willfulness. Lindsey also asserts that Mr. Buck's claim for FLSA recordkeeping violations is not a viable claim because the FLSA does not provide a private right of action for recordkeeping violations. The Court will address each in turn.

A. Employer-Employee Relationship

The FLSA's overtime requirements apply to employers and employees, 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1), and therefore, to be applicable, require the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Lindsey argues that Mr. Buck has not sufficiently pleaded that Lindsey was his employer within the meaning of the FLSA.

The FLSA provides little guidance concerning the limits of the employer-employee relationship. Marshall v. Truman Arnold Distrib. Co., 640 F.2d 906, 908 (8th Cir. 1981) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 203(d), (e)(1), and (g) (defining "employer", "employee", and "employ"). "In determining whether an entity functions as an individual's employer, courts generally look to the economic reality of the arrangement." Blair v. Wills, 420 F.3d 823, 829 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing Goldberg v. Whitaker, 366 U.S. 28, 33 (1961) ("[T]he economic reality' rather than technical concepts' is to be the test of employment" under the FLSA)). Courts "have looked to factors such as the control of hiring and firing of employees, control of the manner in which work is performed, and the fixing of employee wages in determining who is the employer'" under the FLSA. Dole v. Cont'l Cuisine, Inc., 751 F.Supp. 799, 802-03 (E.D. Ark. 1990) (citing Wirtz v. Pure Ice Co., 322 F.2d 259 (8th Cir. 1963); Fruco Const. Co. v. McClelland, 192 F.2d 241 (8th Cir. 1951)). The economic reality test looks to the totality of the circumstances, not to any one factor. Le v. Regency Corp., 957 F.Supp.2d 1079, 1089-90 (D. Minn. 2013).

The Court finds that Mr. Buck has sufficiently pleaded employee status under the FLSA. Mr. Buck's first amended complaint alleges a straight forward employer-employee relationship, providing details regarding his hiring, compensation, and duties as a pro shop attendant in Lindsey's golf course. Under these circumstances, a detailed analysis of the economic reality test is not appropriate at this stage of the proceedings. See Kemp v. Frank Fletcher Companies, Ltd., No. 4:10CV01122 JLH, 2010 WL 4096564, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 18, 2010) ("Because Kemp alleges that they were her employers and the Court must accept that allegation as true on a motion to dismiss, Kemp has stated a claim for relief under the FLSA."). ...


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