United States District Court, D. Columbia.
For MURAD AL-QURAAN, Plaintiff: F. Peter Silva, II, LEAD ATTORNEY, GOWEN GROUP LAW OFFICE, PLLC, Washington, DC.
DENISE KUENZEL, Defendant, Pro se, Washington, DC.
Plaintiff Murad Al-Quraan filed this suit for unpaid wages on December 17, 2014. Plaintiff worked at Defendants' boarding house as a resident assistant and was compensated by rent reduction. (Am. Compl. ¶ 2). Plaintiff alleges that the value of his rent reduction " was significantly less than the" minimum wage required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (" FLSA" ), the D.C. Minimum Wage Act, D.C. Code § 32-1001 et seq., and the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Law, D.C. Code § 32-1302. (Am. Compl. ¶ 4). Plaintiff named three defendants in his suit: Loftstel, the LLC which operates the boarding house, Denise Kuenzel (" Kuenzel" ), the " self-reported owner and an officer of Loftstel," (Am. Compl. ¶ 16), and Jeff Pan, " an officer, director, manager or partner"
of Loftstel. (Am. Compl. ¶ 15). Loftstel has not appeared in this action and the court entered default judgment against Lofstel at a hearing on May 7, 2015 and by an Order dated June 9, 2015. (ECF No. 31). Plaintiff has not successfully served Jeff Pan. ( See Motion for Alternative Service, ECF No. 32; Order, July 10, 2015, ECF No. 42). Denise Kuenzel, appearing pro se, has moved to dismiss. (ECF No. 24). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is GRANTED.
I. LEGAL STANDARD
A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242, 352 U.S. App.D.C. 4 (D.C. Cir. 2002). " To survive a motion to dismiss, 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). " The plausibility standard is not akin to a 'probability requirement,' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id. (citation omitted). Moreover, a pleading must offer more than " labels and conclusions" or a " formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Bell A. Co. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). If the facts as alleged, which must be taken as true, fail to establish that a plaintiff has stated a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion must be granted. See, e.g., Am. Chemistry Council, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 922 F.Supp.2d 56, 61 (D.D.C. 2013).
The FLSA defines an employer, circularly, as " any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee." 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). An employee may have more than one employer. Ventura v. Bebo Foods, Inc., 738 F.Supp.2d 1, 5 (D.D.C. 2010). In determining whether a party is an " employer" under the FLSA, a court must examine the " economic reality" of the relationship. Morrison v. Int'l Programs Consortium, Inc., 253 F.3d 5, 10-11, 346 U.S. App.D.C. 301 (D.C. Cir. 2001). This includes considering:
whether the alleged employer (1) had the power to hire and fire the employees, (2) supervised and controlled employee work schedules or conditions of employment, (3) determined the rate and method of payment, and (4) maintained employment records.
Id. (citing Henthorn v. Dep't of Navy, 29 F.3d 682, 684, 308 U.S. App.D.C. 36 (D.C. Cir. 1994). A corporate officer may be an employer if " the officer has operational control," which can be demonstrated by the officer's seniority in the corporation, the size of the officer's ownership interest, and the officer's responsibilities. Ventura, 738 F.Supp.2d at 5-6.
Kuenzel argues that as an investor in the LLC with no responsibility for the business plan or employment arrangements, ...