Landers v. Quality Communications

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-12-2014
  • Case #: 12-15890
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Rawlinson for the Court; Circuit Judges Kleinfeld and Gilman
  • Full Text Opinion

When bringing a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the complaint must allege at least one workweek where the plaintiff worked overtime without adequate compensation.

Greg Landers was employed as a cable services installer at Quality. He brought suit alleging that Quality violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by failing to pay him minimum wage and overtime pay. The district court found that Landers did not state a plausible claim under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule 8”) and dismissed the complaint. Landers appealed without amending his complaint. The Ninth Circuit explained that to satisfy a Rule 8 motion to dismiss, a complaint must be sufficiently factual “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” A complaint that is conclusory and merely a recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not suffice. The panel reviewed Landers’s complaint to determine whether it supported a plausible claim that Quality violated the FLSA by failing to provide appropriate wages. The panel found that the district courts are split on the issue of how much particularity is required in FLSA complaints. Some circuits require the plaintiff to approximate the overtime hours worked in the complaint, and other circuits forgo the requirement. The panel adopted a rule requiring the plaintiff (at a minimum) to allege at least one workweek where he worked overtime without adequate compensation. Applying the rule to Landers’s case, the court found that his complaint alleged only generalized allegations with insufficient detail regarding specific workweeks. The court recognized that plaintiffs in such cases are not expected to produce pleadings that are mathematically precise, but they should be able to specify at least one workweek in which they worked overtime without adequate compensation. AFFIRMED.

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