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Betancourt v. Advantage Human Resourcing, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 3, 2014

JUAN BETANCOURT, Plaintiff,
v.
ADVANTAGE HUMAN RESOURCING, INC., Defendant.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS

JON S. TIGAR, District Judge.

In this putative class action for unpaid wages and related claims, Defendant Advantage Human Resourcing, Inc. ("Advantage") moves to dismiss Plaintiff Betancourt's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Betancourt's Claims[1]

Defendant Advantage is a temporary staffing agency. Compl. ¶ 14. As with many other temporary agencies, Advantage interviews prospective workers, sends them to a "new hire" orientation, has new hires sign a form that acknowledges that the parties are entering into an employment arrangement, and requires them to complete traditional employment paperwork, including W-4 and I-9 forms. Id . ¶¶ 17-20. Upon becoming an Advantage "employee, " a person becomes eligible to interview for positions with Advantage's clients. Id . ¶ 22.

Advantage controls the manner in which temporary workers interview with clients. Id . ¶ 16. Advantage decides which workers interview with which clients, and sets the dates and places of the interviews. Id . ¶ 23. Advantage also modifies its temporary workers' resumes to display only Advantage's contact information. Id . ¶ 24. In addition, Advantage forbids its workers from ever directly contacting its clients. Id . ¶ 26.

If, after an interview, the client wishes to hire the worker, Advantage negotiates the terms, conditions, and salary of the client-worker relationship. Id . ¶ 25. If the client does not hire the temporary worker, Advantage retains sole discretion to send that worker to another client. Id . ¶ 27.

Betancourt underwent Advantage's hiring process in late 2011. Id . ¶ 31. After Betancourt successfully interviewed with Advantage and signed an employment agreement, Advantage directed Betancourt to interview with UTLS Default Services, LLC ("UTLS"), one of Advantage's clients. Id . ¶ 32. Before the interview, Advantage altered Betancourt's resume to show only Advantage's contact information. Id . ¶ 33. The interview lasted one hour. Id . ¶ 37. After the interview and as Advantage required, Betancourt called Advantage to report how the interview went. Id . ¶ 34. Subsequently, Advantage acted as intermediary between Betancourt and UTLS, calling to inform him of his success at the interview, as well as of his pay rate and start-date. Id . ¶¶ 34, 35.

Betancourt completed his assignment with UTLS and terminated his employment with Advantage shortly thereafter by failing to keep in touch with Advantage about possible new assignments. Id . ¶ 36.

Betancourt now makes the following allegations on behalf of himself and members of the putative class: (1) he was an Advantage employee during his interview with UTLS, and the interview was work time for which he was never paid, in violation of California Labor Code § 1194(a)[2]; (2) Advantage violated § 226(a) by failing to provide Betancourt with accurate wage statements; (3) Advantage failed to pay Betancourt his due hourly wage for the UTLS interview in violation of § 223; (4) Advantage failed to pay Betancourt for his interview with UTLS upon his termination in violation of §§ 201, 201.3, 202 and 203; and (5) Advantage violated California Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq. by failing to pay Betancourt for the interview.

B. Jurisdiction

Because Betancourt alleges that the putative class meets minimum-diversity and amount-in-controversy requirements, the Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Id . ¶ 5.

II. DISCUSSSION

A. Legal Standard

"A district court's dismissal for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) is proper if there is a lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.'" Conservation Force v. Salazar , 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't , 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988).

On a motion to dismiss, courts accept the material facts alleged in the complaint, together with reasonable inferences to be drawn from those facts, as true. Navarro v. Block , 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir.2001). However, "the tenet that a court must accept a complaint's allegations as true is inapplicable to threadbare recitals of a cause of action's elements, supported by mere conclusory statements." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To be entitled to the presumption of truth, a complaint's allegations "must contain sufficient allegations of ...


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