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Walden v. State

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 20, 2017

DONALD WALDEN JR., NATHAN ECHEVERRIA, AARON DICUS, BRENT EVERIST, TRAVIS ZUFELT, TIMOTHY RIDENOUR, and DANIEL TRACY on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF NEVADA, NEVADA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, and DOES 1-50, Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. SUMMARY

         This dispute involves claims for payment of wages brought by Nevada Department of Corrections' (“NDOC”) corrections officers against NDOC. Before the Court is NDOC's Renewed Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (“Motion”). (ECF No. 86.) The Court has reviewed Plaintiffs' response (ECF No. 87) and NDOC's reply (ECF No. 93). For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is granted in part.

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiffs' Collective and Class Action Complaint (“Complaint”). Plaintiffs are current and former corrections officers employed with NDOC as non-exempt hourly employees. (ECF No. 1 at 8-10.) NDOC has required corrections officers like Plaintiffs and others similarly situated to perform “work activities before and after their regularly scheduled shifts for which they have not been compensated.” (Id. at 10.) In particular, Plaintiffs allege they were not paid minimum wage or overtime when accounting for these additional hours worked. (Id. at 11.) Plaintiffs assert claims for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), failure to pay minimum wages in violation of Article 14 § 16 of the Nevada Constitution and breach of contract. (Id. at 16-20.)

         The Complaint was filed in the First Judicial District Court in and for Carson City. (Id. at 7.) NDOC removed based on federal question jurisdiction. (Id. at 1-2.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings utilizes the same standard as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in that it may only be granted when it is clear to the court that “no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven consistent with the allegations.” McGlinchy v. Shull Chem. Co., 845 F.2d 802 (9th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on either the lack of a cognizable legal theory or absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         A plaintiff's complaint must allege facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677, (2009). A claim has “facial plausibility” when the party seeking relief “pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. Although the court must accept as true the well-pled facts in a complaint, conclusory allegations of law and unwarranted inferences will not defeat an otherwise proper [Rule 12(b)(6)] motion. Vasquez v. L.A. County, 487 F.3d 1246, 1249 (9th Cir. 2007); Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). “[A] plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds' of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual 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) (citations and footnote omitted).

         In addition, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has recently clarified the pleading requirements for FLSA claims post Twombly and Iqbal. See Landers v. Quality Communications, Inc., 771 F.3d 638 (9th Cir. 2015). The court stated that “at a minimum, a plaintiff asserting a violation of the FLSA overtime provisions must allege that she worked more than forty hours in a given workweek without being compensated for the hours worked in excess of the forty during that workweek.” Id. at 646. To establish a plausible claim for relief, a plaintiff may estimate “the length of her average workweek during the applicable period and the average rate at which she was paid, the amount of overtime wages she believes she is owed, or any other facts that will permit the court to find plausibility.” Id. at 645.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Sufficiency of Factual Allegations Supporting FLSA Claims

         NDOC argues that Plaintiffs fail to state their FLSA claims because Plaintiffs have not alleged that they were paid below the minimum wage for each pay period and that they worked more than forty hours in any workweek without compensation. (ECF No. 86 at 6-8.) Plaintiffs counter that they were not compensated for performing the pre-shift and post-shift activities alleged in the Complaint. (ECF No. 87 at 5.) Plaintiffs have missed the point.

         The FLSA requires compensation at or above the minimum wage, which is determined based on the hours worked within the workweek as a whole. Adair v. City of Kirkland, 185 F.3d 1055, 1063 (9th Cir. 1999). Employers are also required to pay overtime for any ...


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