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Hampton v. Maxwell Trailers & Pick-Up Accessories, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division

August 9, 2019

ROYAL HAMPTON, et al. Plaintiffs,
v.
MAXWELL TRAILERS & PICK-UP ACCESSORIES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          HENRY EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' Joint Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiffs' Complaint, [Doc. No. 15], and Defendant Maxwell Trailers & Pick-Up Accessories, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss, [Doc. No. 17]. Plaintiffs oppose both motions, which have been fully briefed. For the reasons set forth below, both motions are denied.

         Facts and Background

         Plaintiffs Royal Hampton (“Hampton”) and James Pierce (“Pierce”) (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) are welders who bring this action on behalf of themselves and a similarly situated class of plaintiffs against their employers. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), et seq. (“FLSA”) and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law, § 290.500 RSMo, et seq. (“MMWL”).

         According to the complaint, Defendant Maxwell Trailers & Pick-Up Accessories, Inc. (“Maxwell”) is in the business of manufacturing, selling, and distributing trailers, automobiles, trucks, wagons, and other mechanically propelled vehicles. Defendant Ironstar Beds, LLC (“Ironstar”) is in the business of, inter alia, manufacturing and selling steel products to truck equipment dealers and distributors. Maxwell and Ironstar (collectively, “Defendants”) are related through common ownership and management. Defendants employ dozens of non-exempt, hourly-paid workers, including Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees have been employed at all relevant times by Maxwell and/or Ironstar. Plaintiffs worked at Defendants' shared facility in Mexico, Missouri.

         Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees routinely worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Hampton regularly worked 55 hours per week, and Pierce regularly worked 70 hours per week. Plaintiffs and those similarly situated did not receive an overtime rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek. Instead, Defendants paid these employees their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40.

         In July 2018, Hampton began asking his co-workers if they would be interested in joining collectively to assert their statutory right to overtime pay. Many of Hampton's co-workers expressed interest in pursuing a lawsuit. Soon, the owner of Defendants, Randy Maxwell, learned of Hampton's intention to assert his rights to overtime pay with a lawsuit, and learned that Hampton was encouraging his coworkers to do the same.

         In August 2018, Randy Maxwell told Hampton that he needed to “squash” the anticipated lawsuit and “make sure nothing happened.” Defendants' plant manager told Hampton that until there was proof that he would not pursue his claims, Hampton would be limited to working 40 hours per week. Hampton's hours were then reduced to a maximum 40 hours per week. Hampton relied on the compensation he received from his regular schedule of 55 or more hours per week to support himself and his family.

         In late August or early September 2018, Defendants informed the employees in Hampton's building that they were no longer allowed to work more than 40 hours per week. A few weeks later, Defendants informed their employees that no one at the Mexico location could work more than 40 hours per week. The plant manager reportedly told the employees that Defendants cut their hours at the “fault” of Hampton and his anticipated lawsuit.

         On October 1, 2018, the plant manager told Hampton that “Randy's not paying for overtime.” On October 2, Hampton informed the plant manager he would be late to work based on obligations at home. The plant manager said that was fine, but when Hampton arrived to work, the plant manager told him that Defendants were terminating his employment. Hampton appealed to Randy Maxwell, who told Hampton that he did not want to “deal with” him any longer. Upon Hampton's termination, Defendants returned employees to schedules of more than 40 hours per week.

         Plaintiffs allege three counts: Count I alleges that Defendants failed to pay overtime wages in violation of the FLSA; Count II alleges that Defendants violated the FLSA's non-retaliation provisions by reducing hours and terminating Hampton as a result of his impending lawsuit; and Count III alleges that Defendants failed to pay overtime wages in violation of the MMWL. Plaintiffs assert each count on behalf of themselves and similarly situated employees as collective (Counts I and II) and class (Count III) actions.

         Motion to Dismiss Standard

         The purpose of a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is to test the legal sufficiency of the complaint. To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), “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 Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A complaint states a plausible claim for relief if its ‘factual content ... allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).

         When considering a 12(b)(6) motion, the district court accepts as true all factual allegations in the complaint and grants all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Crooks v. Lynch, 557 F.3d 846, 848 (8th Cir. 2009). A claim for relief “must include sufficient factual information to provide the ‘grounds' on which the claim rests, and to raise a right to relief above a speculative level.” Schaaf v. Residential Funding Corp.,517 F.3d 544, 549 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 & n.3). This obligation requires a plaintiff to plead “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The principle that a court must accept as true all of the allegations ...


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