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Macias v. All-Ways, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 25, 2017

FIDEL MACIAS, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALL-WAYS, INC., and ANTHONY DE MATTEO, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMY J. ST. EVE United States District Court Judge.

         On December 27, 2016, Plaintiff Fidel Macias (“Macias”) filed a Complaint against Defendants All-Ways, Inc. (“All-Ways”) and Anthony De Matteo (“De Matteo”), collectively “Defendants, ” seeking relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. (“FLSA”) and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq. (“IMWL”). (R. 1, Compl.) Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the Court grants Defendants' motion without prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant De Matteo is the President of All-Ways, a landscaping company doing business in the Northern District of Illinois, that Plaintiff alleges is “an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce.” (Compl. ¶¶ 7-9.) Plaintiff is an Illinois resident who performed landscaping work and drove trucks as Defendants' employee from 2006 until December 2, 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 4-5, 12.) Plaintiff alleges that De Matteo is involved in the day-to-day business operations of All-Ways and has the authority to hire and fire employees, to direct and supervise employees' work, to sign off on payroll and checking accounts, and to participate in employee compensation decisions. (Id. ¶ 9.) Accordingly, Plaintiff claims that both De Matteo and All-Ways were his “employer” as defined by the FLSA. (Id. ¶¶ 8-10.) Plaintiff alleges that he often worked more than 50 hours per week, but Defendant paid him a set salary of $592 per week and did not pay him for the hours he worked beyond 40 hours per week. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14.) Plaintiff claims that, although he was paid a set salary, Defendants still required him to punch a time card before and after every shift. (Id. ¶ 15.)

         According to Plaintiff, in the course of his employment, he “handled goods that moved in interstate commerce and performed non-exempt work.” (Id. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff alleges that he was not exempt from the overtime wage provisions of the FLSA, but he was directed by Defendants to work, and often did work, in excess of 40 hours per week. (Id. ¶¶ 20-21.) Plaintiff claims that Defendants' practice of not paying him overtime wages violated the FLSA and the IMWL. (Id. ¶¶ 24, 32.)

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion challenges the sufficiency of the complaint itself. Bell v. City of Country Club Hills, 841 F.3d 713, 716 (7th Cir. 2016). Under 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). The short and plain statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must “give the defendant fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Under the 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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In determining the sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard, courts must “accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor.” Roberts v. City of Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). In reviewing the complaint, however, courts need “not accept as true legal conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements.” Alain v. Miller Brewing Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013) (citations and quotations omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         The FLSA imposes minimum and hourly overtime wage requirements for employees who are “engaged in commerce[1] or in the production of goods for commerce” (individual-based coverage) or who are “employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce” (enterprise-based coverage). 29 U.S.C. §§ 206(a), 207(a)(1). Here, Defendants argue that the Court must dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint because Plaintiff has failed to sufficiently allege either individual or enterprise coverage under the FLSA. The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         I. Individual Coverage

         Individual coverage under the FLSA applies when the employee's work “is so directly and vitally related to the functioning of an instrumentality or facility of interstate commerce as to be, in practical effect, a part of it, rather than isolated, local activity.” Martinez v. Manolos Tamales, Inc., No. 14 C 9686, 2015 WL 5144024, at *1-2 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 31, 2015) (quoting Mitchell v. C.W. Vollmer & Co., 349 U.S. 427, 429 (1955)). Plaintiff's Complaint contains a one-sentence allegation that he “handled goods that moved in interstate commerce” during the course of his employment at All-Ways, a landscaping company.

         Several courts have held that similarly conclusory allegations are insufficient to support individual coverage under the FLSA. In Rivas v. Marcelo Hand Car Wash Inc., No. 10 C 1396, 2010 WL 4386858, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 28, 2010), for example, the plaintiff alleged that his work cleaning cars at a car wash caused him to handle goods and engage in interstate commerce because the car wash used the internet to market its services and because the vehicles he washed may have moved through interstate commerce. The court rejected the plaintiff's theory of individual FLSA coverage reasoning that the plaintiff himself did not engage in any internet marketing activities and explaining that the plaintiff's “local handling of vehicles [was] simply too far removed from interstate commerce” to bring him within the scope of the FLSA. Id. at *2. See also Martinez, 2015 WL 5144024, at *2 (finding plaintiff's work cooking and cleaning at restaurants insufficient to raise inference that she produced goods for or engaged in interstate commerce); Urrutia v. Buena Vista Rest. & Bar, No. 14 C 01356, 2014 WL 7403463, at *2 (N.D. Ill.Dec. 29, 2014) (finding restaurant worker's individual coverage allegations “conclusory in nature”); Jacoby v. Schimka Auto Wreckers, Inc., No. 10 C 1452, 2010 WL 3171515, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 11, 2010) (finding that tow truck company employee's work was “isolated local activity” that tangentially used tools that may have traveled in interstate commerce and thus did not qualify for individual coverage).

         Here, like in Rivas and the other cited cases, Plaintiff's allegations relate to work that plaintiff performed locally and that was far removed from interstate commerce. Plaintiff's threadbare recital of the FLSA standard for individual coverage is insufficient to support the plausible inference that Plaintiff's work was “directly and vitally related” to interstate commerce. Accordingly, Plaintiff has failed to plead that he qualifies for individual coverage under the FLSA. The Court, therefore, dismisses this aspect of his FLSA claim without prejudice.

         II. ...


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