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Lydia Brown, Individually, and On Behalf of All Others Similarly v. Lululemon Athletica

February 24, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Amy J. St. Eve


AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge:

Plaintiff Lydia Brown ("Brown") brought a purported class- and collective-action lawsuit against Defendant Lululemon Athletica, Inc. ("Lululemon"), on September 7, 2010. (R. 1.) In her Third Amended Complaint ("the Complaint"), Brown alleges that Lululemon employed her from May 18, 2010, to June 8, 2010, during which time Defendant failed to pay her for all the hours she worked. (R. 34.) More specifically, Brown alleges that Lululemon required her to attend a staff meeting, to attend one exercise class per week, and to listen to a motivational CD. (Id. at 3.) The Complaint seeks to bring a class action under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA") and a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). (Id. at 1, 4-10.)

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the Complaint on January 3, 2011, arguing that Brown has failed both to allege the existence of an "employment contract or agreement," which precludes a violation of the IWPCA, and to allege that her average compensation per hour is below the minimum wage, without which showing she cannot establish a violation of the FLSA. (R. 35; R. 36.) Brown's January 31, 2011, response argues that the Complaint adequately alleges the existence of an employment agreement. (R. 38.) Although she acknowledges that a number of decisions have held that an employer cannot violate the FLSA by having its employees undertake certain uncompensated work if its average compensation of those employees meets or exceeds the minimum wage, Brown argues that cases that have reached an opposite conclusion are better reasoned. (Id.)

For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Lululemon's motion to dismiss, without prejudice.


Brown filed the instant lawsuit on September 7, 2010. (R. 1.) The next day, the Court entered an order requiring Plaintiff to file an amended complaint because she had failed to allege subject-matter jurisdiction. (R. 3.) After Brown filed her first amended complaint, Lululemon filed a motion to dismiss. (R. 24.) The same day that she filed a response motion in opposition to Defendant's motion to dismiss, Brown filed a motion for leave to file her second amended complaint. (R. 29; R. 30.) The Court granted the latter motion on December 6, 2010. (R. 33.) Plaintiff then filed the Complaint that is now the subject of Defendant's renewed motion to dismiss. (R. 34.)

Brown alleges that Lululemon employed her as an educator/sales clerk in its Halsted Street, Chicago store from May 18, 2010, to June 8, 2010. (R. 34 at 2.) She purports to bring class and collective actions to recover unpaid compensation, statutory penalties, and damages owed to her and other educators formerly or currently employed by Lululemon in Illinois.*fn1 (Id. at 2-3.) Plaintiff further contends that Lululemon required its educators "to put in several hours of work each for which they were not paid. For example, educators were required to take at least one exercise class per week and they were strongly encouraged to take as many as three. The company held two hour staff meetings at least once a month. And, [sic] educators were required to listen to inspirational CD's [sic] at home on their own time." (Id. at 3.) The Complaint alleges that "[a]ll of these activities were job related and the educators should have been paid for them." (Id.)

Brown seeks to bring a Rule 23(b)(3) class action against Defendant under the IWPCA and a collective action under the FLSA. (R. 34 at 4-10.)


"A motion under Rule 12(b)(6) challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim upon which relief may be granted." Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police of Chi. Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009). Pursuant to Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must include "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). As the Seventh Circuit recently explained, this "[r]ule reflects a liberal notice pleading regime, which is intended to 'focus litigation on the merits of a claim' rather than on technicalities that might keep plaintiffs out of court." Brooks v. Ross, 578F.3d 574, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (quoting Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 514 (2002)). This short and plain statement must "give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atl. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Under federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff's "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Put differently, 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, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570); see also Cooney v. Rossiter, 583 F.3d 967, 971 (7th Cir. 2009) (explaining that the amount of factual allegations required to state a plausible claim for relief depends on the complexity of the relevant legal theory). "[W]hen ruling on a defendant's motion to dismiss, a judge must accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in the complaint." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Justice v. Town of Cicero, 577 F.3d 768, 771 (7th Cir. 2009) (holding that the court must construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor).


I. The Complaint Fails to State a Claim Under the IWPCA

The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act provides that "[p]ayments to separated employees shall be termed 'final compensation' and shall be defined as . . . any compensation owed the employee by the employer pursuant to an employment contract or agreement between the two parties." 820 ILL. COMP. STAT. 115/2. Lululemon observes that an employee cannot bring an action under the IWPCA in the absence of an "employment contract or agreement" between the parties. (R. 36 at 8.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff has failed to plead the existence of such an agreement, which requires the Court to dismiss Brown's IWPCA claim. (Id. at 8-9.) Lululemon also submits a related argument, which is that "Plaintiff, a separated employee, fails to allege that her employment contract, or some other ...

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