United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER United States District Judge
Tomas Lemus Amaya worked for six years as a kitchen hand at
the Pollo Granjero restaurant in Washington, D.C. In this
suit, he seeks to recover from the restaurant and its owner
unpaid minimum and overtime wages for a period of
approximately two years. Despite having been served,
defendants Logo Enterprises, LLC (“Logo
Enterprises”) and its owner Juan Loyola have not
responded to the complaint or the clerk's entry of
default. Amaya now petitions the Court to enter a default
judgment, seeking a monetary judgment against Defendants in
the amount of $300, 163.82, which includes unpaid minimum and
overtime wages, liquidated damages, attorney fees, expenses,
and court costs. Because Amaya has adequately demonstrated
Defendants' liability and that he is entitled to monetary
relief, the Court will enter default judgments against Logo
Enterprises and Loyola.
Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires
employers to pay a federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour,
and overtime payments at a rate of one-and one-half times the
employee's regular hourly wage for hours worked in excess
of 40 hours per week. See 29 U.S.C. §§
206-207. The statute further requires employers to pay
state-established minimum wages if they are higher than the
federal minimum wage. See id. § 218.
District of Columbia Wage Payment and Collection Law
(“DCWPCL”) establishes the minimum wage that
employers must pay to persons employed in the District of
Columbia. See D.C. Code § 32-1001. During the
time periods alleged in Amaya's complaint, the D.C.
minimum wage was $8.25 per hour from January 1, 2013 until
June 30, 2014; $9.50 from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2015;
and $10.50 from July 1, 2015 until the end of Amaya's
employment on October 21, 2015. See D.C. Code §
32-1003. Because the federal minimum wage was lower during
all relevant periods, Amaya's minimum hourly wage is
established by the DCWPCL.
Enterprises and Loyola are employers as defined by the FLSA
and the DCWPCL.Logo Enterprises is a limited liability
company operating under the name Pollo Granjero. Compl.
¶ 6. Pollo Granjero employed Amaya as a kitchen hand,
starting in 2009 until approximately October 21, 2015. Compl.
¶¶ 9-11. Amaya filed suit on January 5, 2016
alleging that Defendants violated both the FLSA and DCWPCL by
paying him less than the required minimum wage and no
overtime pay despite his working an average of 83 hours per
week. Id. ¶¶ 6-7, 17, 40-41. Accordingly,
Amaya argues that he is entitled to $313, 128.00, which
includes unpaid wages from January 1, 2013 until October 21,
2015, liquidated damages, court costs, and attorney fees and
and the Company were properly served on January 12, 2016 and
February 4, 2016 respectively. Neither Defendant filed a
response, and the Clerk of the Court entered a default
against both. In September 2016, Amaya filed a Motion for
Default Judgment, which has received no response in the past
Standard of Review
standard for default judgment is a two-step procedure.
See e.g., Ventura v L.A. Howard Constr.
Co., 134 F.Supp.3d 99, 102 (D.D.C. 2015). A plaintiff
must request first that the Clerk of the Court enter a
default against an opposing party who has “failed to
plead or otherwise defend, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a), which
“establishes the defaulting party's liability for
the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint.”
Boland v. Elite Terrazzo Flooring, Inc., 763
F.Supp.2d 64, 67 (D.D.C. 2011). A plaintiff must then
petition the court for a default judgment against the
parties. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(b)(2). The purpose of default
judgments is to prevent absentee defendants from escaping
liability by refusing to participate in judicial proceedings.
See Elite Terrazzo Flooring, 763 F.Supp.2d at 67.
liability has been established, courts have considerable
latitude in determining the appropriate award through an
independent evaluation of the alleged damages. Courts may
choose to hold a hearing or can base their assessments on
“detailed affidavits or documentary evidence”
submitted by plaintiffs in support of their claims.
Boland v. Providence Constr. Corp., 304 F.R.D. 31,
36 (D.D.C. 2014) (quoting Fanning v. Permanent Sol.
Indus, Inc., 257 F.R.D. 4, 7 (D.D.C. 2009)). However,
the Court is not required to hold a hearing “‘as
long as it ensures that there is a basis for the damages
specified in the default judgment.'” Elite
Terrazzo Flooring, Inc., 763 F.Supp.2d at 67.
Court will first consider Defendants' liability and then
turn to evaluating the relevant damages.
FLSA requires that an employer pay his employees for hours
worked in excess of forty hours per week “at a rate not
less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he
is employed.” 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). The DCWPCL
likewise requires employer to compensate employees for
overtime “at a rate not less than 11/2 times the
regular rate at which the employee is employed.” D.C.
Code § 32-1003. Under the DCWPCL, if an employer fires
an employee, “the employer shall pay the employee's
wages earned not later than the working day following such
discharge.” D.C. Code § 32-1303. If an employee
quits or resigns, however, ...