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SINGH v. JUTLA

August 5, 2002

MACAN SINGH, PLAINTIFF,
V.
JUTLA & C.D. & R'S OIL, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Breyer, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff filed a claim with this Court under the Fair Labor Standards Act's ("FLSA") anti-retaliation provisions and the California Labor Code. Now before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss. After carefully considering the papers filed by the parties, and having had the benefit of oral argument, the Court hereby DENIES the motion to dismiss for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

As alleged, defendant Jutla recruited plaintiff, Macan Singh, to come work for him in the United States. Jutla promised plaintiff a place to live, tuition for education, and that plaintiff would eventually become Jutla's business partner in his corporation, C.D. & R's Oil Inc. Plaintiff, in the United States illegally, worked for Jutla from approximately May 1995 to February 1998 and received no pay.

On January 6, 1999 plaintiff filed a wage claim against defendants with the California Department of Industrial Relations ("Labor Commissioner"), pursuant to section 98 of the California Labor Code. Plaintiff sought unpaid wages and overtime pay for work actually performed. After plaintiff filed the claim, Jutla threatened to report him to the Immigration and Naturalization Services ("INS") unless the claim was dropped. Jutla also tried to force Singh to sign a written waiver of his claims. Plaintiff, however, refused to submit to Jutla. The Labor Commissioner awarded plaintiff $69, 633.73. Defendants appealed from the Labor Commission's judgment by filing an action in the Alameda Superior Court. On February 23, 2001, the first day of the trial, the parties settled. In a written agreement signed by both parties on May 3, 2001, Jutla agreed to make scheduled payments to Singh.

The following day, May 4, 2001, the INS arrested and detained plaintiff. Plaintiff has been in INS custody for fourteen months. He alleges that defendant Jutla contacted the INS and provided them with information of plaintiffs status in an act of retaliation.

On March 7, 2002, plaintiff filed a complaint with this Court against defendants for retaliation under the FLSA and the California Labor Code, requesting declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is viewed with disfavor and is rarely granted. See Gilligan v. Jamco Dev. Corp., 108 F.3d 246, 249 (9th Cir. 1997). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint should not be dismissed unless a plaintiff can prove "no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief." Parks Sch. of Bus., Inc. v. Symington, 51 F.3d 1480, 1484 (9th Cir. 1995). The court must take the non-moving party's factual allegations as true and must construe those allegations in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See id. The court must also draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Usher v. City of Los Angeles, 828 F.2d 556, 561 (9th Cir. 1987).

II. Pre-Hoffman Law

Defendants contend that under Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. NLRB, ___ U.S. ___, 122 S.Ct. 1275, 152 L.Ed.2d 271 (2002) plaintiff has no cause of action. Before this argument can be addressed, however, it is necessary to briefly discuss the relevant law prior to Hoffman.

A. Undocumented aliens have a cause of action under the National Labor Reform Act ("NLRA")

In Sure-Tan, Inc. v. NLRB, 467 U.S. 883, 104 S.Ct. 2803, 81 L.Ed.2d 732 (1984), the Supreme Court held that undocumented aliens could bring an action under the NLRA. Broadly speaking, Sure-Tan stands for the proposition that undocumented workers are protected from unfair labor practices under the NLRA, and specifically, that when the evidence establishes that an employer reported the presence of an illegal employee to the INS in retaliation for the employee's protected union activity that the alien has a cause of action under section 8(a)(3) of the NLRA. Id. at 896, 104 S.Ct. 2803. The Sure-Tan court ...


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