United States District Court, D. Columbia.
SARA WILSON, On behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
HUNAM INN, INC., et al., Defendants
SARA WILSON, Plaintiff: Kenneth C. Gauvey, The Law Practice
of Ken C. Gauvey, LLC, Hyattsville, MD.
HUNAM INN, INC., doing business as COBALT/30 DEGREES, DONALD
ERIC LITTLE, DAVID PERRUZZA, Defendants: Joseph Peter
Harkins, Steven E. Kaplan, LEAD ATTORNEYS, LITTLER MENDELSON,
P.C., Washington, DC.
G. Sullivan, United States District Judge.
Sara Wilson, on behalf of herself and all others similarly
situated, brings this action against Defendant Hunam Inn,
Inc., and individual Defendants Donald Eric Little, and David
Perruzza, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and the D.C.
Minimum Wage Act (DCMWA), D.C. Code § 32-1001 et
seq. Defendants move for partial dismissal of Ms.
Wilson's complaint, or in the alternative, for partial
summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, the
response and reply thereto, the entire record, and the
applicable law, Defendants' motion is DENIED.
Wilson is a former bartender at a D.C. nightclub operated by
Defendant Human Inn, Inc. Compl., ECF No. 1 at ¶ ¶
1, 2. Human Inn, Inc. is a D.C. corporation doing business
under the names " Cobalt" and " 30
Degrees." Id. at ¶ 2. Defendant Donald
Eric Little is the sole owner and President of Human Inn,
Inc. Id. at ¶ 3; see also Defs.'
Mot., ECF No. 8-2 at ¶ 3. Defendant David Perruzza is a
corporate officer at Human Inn, Inc., whose responsibilities
include signing payroll checks. Compl., ECF No. 1 at ¶
4; Defs.' Mot. at 8-2 at ¶ 4.
Wilson alleges that while employed as a bartender at Cobalt,
she was not paid minimum wage or overtime. Compl., ECF No. 1,
at ¶ ¶ 14, 15. Ms. Wilson alleges that her
employers used an invalid " tip pooling"
arrangement to avoid paying their employees minimum wage.
Id. at ¶ ¶ 18, 53, 55. While under certain
circumstances the FLSA allows employers to pay " tipped
employees" at an hourly rate below the minimum wage, Ms.
Wilson argues that the tip pooling arrangement used at Cobalt
failed to meet the statutory criteria. Id. at 56.
First, Ms. Wilson alleges that under the tip pool system, she
and the other bartenders were forced to share their tips with
non-tipped employees, such as " bar backs" and
" floor employees," who do not ordinarily receive
tips from customers. Id. at ¶ 55. Second, at
some point during Ms. Wilson's employ with Cobalt, the
nightclub's cleaning staff was fired and Ms. Wilson and
the other bartenders were required to assume additional
cleaning duties, such as cleaning the nightclub bathrooms.
Id. at ¶ ¶ 18-19. Ms. Wilson argues that
these additional cleaning duties were not exempt from the
minimum wage requirement and that the bartenders should have
been paid minimum wage for time spent performing this work.
Id. at ¶ 18. She further alleges that the
Defendants failed to provide her adequate notice that she
would be compensated under the " tipped employee"
exemption to the FLSA's minimum wage requirement.
Id. at ¶ 60. Finally, Ms. Wilson alleges that
she worked an average of 32 to 42 hours per week, but was not
compensated for overtime work. Id. at ¶ 19.
October 21, 2014, Defendants moved for partial dismissal of
the Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for partial
summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. Defs.' Mot., ECF
No. 8-3. Defendants first move to dismiss Plaintiff's
complaint as to Mr. Little and Mr. Perruzza, arguing that Mr.
Little and Mr. Perruzza are not " employers" under
the FLSA or DCMWA and therefore not liable under the law.
Id. at 6-8. Second, Defendants argue that Ms. Wilson
has failed to sufficiently plead a " willful"
violation of the FLSA, and that therefore, Plaintiff's
" third year" FLSA claims should be dismissed.
Id. at 8-9.
alternative, Defendants move for partial summary judgment.
First, Defendants argue that Ms. Wilson never worked more
than 40 hours per week and therefore, the Court should grant
summary judgment for the Defendants on Ms. Wilson's
overtime claims under the FLSA and DCMWA. Defs.' Mot.,
ECF No. 8-3 at 10-11. Second, Defendants rearticulate their
claims that Mr. Little and Mr. Perruzza are not Ms.
Wilson's employers and seek summary judgment as to
themselves individually. Id. at 13-16.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Motion to Dismiss
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
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). A complaint must
contain a " short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, in order to
give the [D]efendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is
and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell A. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167
L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). While
detailed factual allegations are not necessary, Plaintiff
must plead enough facts to " raise a right to relief
above the speculative level." Id.
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court may consider
" the facts alleged in the complaint, documents attached
as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint,
and matters about which the Court may take judicial
notice." Gustave-Schmidt v. Chao, 226 F.Supp.2d
191, 196 (D.D.C. 2002). The court must construe the complaint
liberally in Plaintiff's favor and grant Plaintiff the
benefit of all reasonable inferences deriving from the
complaint. Kowal v. MCI Commc'ns Corp., 16 F.3d
1271, 1276, 305 U.S. App.D.C. 60 (D.C. Cir. 1994). The Court
must not accept inferences that are " unsupported by the
facts set out in the complaint." Id. " Nor
must the court accept legal conclusions cast in the form of
factual allegations." Id. " [O]nly a
complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a
motion to dismiss." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 679, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009).
Motion for Summary Judgment
judgment is appropriate " if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears
the " initial responsibility of informing the district
court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those
portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex ...