Twombly and Iqbal Still Apply To FLSA Actions

May 15, 2015

by Malani L. Kotchka

On January 26, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals amended its decision in Landers v. Quality Communications, Inc.  Landers was employed by Quality as a cable services installer.  He brought suit individually and on behalf of other similarly situated persons alleging that Quality failed to pay minimum wage and overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.  He alleged he was subject to a “piecework no overtime” wage system.  The Ninth Circuit agreed with the First, Second and Third Circuits and held that in order to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff asserting a claim of overtime must allege that he or she worked more than 40 hours in a given workweek without being compensated for the overtime hours worked during that workweek.  The Ninth Circuit concluded that under the post-Twombly and Iqbal standard, Landers failed to state a plausible claim for relief under the FLSA.  Since Landers declined to amend his complaint electing to stand on his claims as alleged, the district court correctly dismissed his complaint for failure to state a plausible claim.

On behalf of Landers, Nichols Kaster filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.  Landers was joined by Civil Procedure Law Professors as Amici Curiae in support of Landers.  Quality Communications opposed the Petition and on April 20, 2015, the United States Supreme Court denied the Petition for Writ of Certiorari.

Before unlocking the doors of discovery, a class action FLSA plaintiff must allege more than a general scheme which might result in non-payment of minimum wage or overtime.  In the Ninth Circuit, the plaintiff must allege at least one workweek when he worked in excess of 40 hours and was not paid for the excess hours in that workweek or was not paid minimum wage.

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