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Martinez v. FP Store, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 24, 2019

ANGELICA MARTINEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
FP STORE, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER FOR PLAINTIFF TO: (1) FILE A FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT OR; (2) NOTIFY THE COURT THAT SHE WISHES TO STAND ON HER COMPLAINT, SUBJECT TO THIS COURT ISSUING FINDINGS AND RECOMMMENDATIONS TO THE DISTRICT JUDGE CONSISTENT WITH THIS ORDER (ECF NO. 1)

         Pro se Plaintiff Angelica Martinez (“Plaintiff”) brings this suit against Defendant FP Store, Inc., (“Defendant”) alleging a cause of action under the Federal Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (“FLSA”). Plaintiff claims that Defendant violated the FLSA by failing to pay her accrued vacation hours after it went bankrupt and shut down the store at which she worked. As described below, however, the Court finds that the FLSA does not regulate accrued vacation time. Therefore, Plaintiff’s Complaint, as drafted, fails to state a claim.

         The Court provides the relevant legal standards below. If Plaintiff believes she can state a claim within this Court’s jurisdiction after reviewing these standards, she can file an amended complaint within thirty days. If Plaintiff disagrees with this order, Plaintiff can inform the Court that she wishes to stand on her Complaint, in which case the Court will issue findings and recommendations to the District Judge consistent with this order.

         I. SCREENING REQUIREMENT

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court must conduct a review of a complaint brought in forma pauperis to determine whether it “state[s] a claim on which relief may be granted, ” is “frivolous or malicious, ” or “seek[s] monetary relief against a [party] who is immune from such relief.” If the Court determines that the complaint fails to state a claim, it must be dismissed. Id. An action is frivolous if it is “of little weight or importance: having no basis in law or fact” and malicious if it was filed with the “intention or desire to harm another.” Andrew v. King, 398 F.3d 1113, 1121 (9th Cir. 2005). Leave to amend may be granted to the extent that the deficiencies of the complaint can be cured by amendment. Cato v. United States, 70 F.3d 1103, 1106 (9th Cir. 1995).

         A complaint is required to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Detailed factual allegations are not required, but “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Plaintiff must set forth “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). The mere possibility of misconduct falls short of meeting this plausibility standard. Id. at 679. While a plaintiff’s allegations are taken as true, courts “are not required to indulge unwarranted inferences.” Doe I v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 572 F.3d 677, 681 (9th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Additionally, a plaintiff’s legal conclusions are not accepted as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

         Pleadings of pro se plaintiffs “must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Hebbe v. Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010) (holding that pro se complaints should continue to be liberally construed after Iqbal).

         II. SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

         Plaintiff filed this suit on April 15, 2019. (ECF No. 1.) The allegations are as follows: Plaintiff accumulated 234.89 hours of vacation time after 8 years of employment with Defendant that total “2583.79.” (Id. at p.5.) Defendant went bankrupt and “closed down” the store at which Plaintiff worked. (Id.)[1] Plaintiff now seeks her “vacation hours that [she] work[ed] for 8 year [sic] and the total is 234.89 hours.” (Id.)

         III. ANALYSIS OF PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

         “The FLSA sets a national minimum wage[]…and requires overtime pay of one and a half times an employee’s hourly wage for every hour worked over 40 hours in a week…” Probert v. Family Centered Servs. Of Alaska, Inc., 651 F.3d 1007, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted); see also 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1) (minimum wage); 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1) (overtime).

         The FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime wage provisions apply only to “employees” who are “employed” by “employers.” See 29 U.S.C. §§ 206(a) and 207(a)(1). Only those employees who are “engaged in commerce or in the production of good for commerce, ” or who are “employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce” may seek recovery under the FLSA’s minimum and overtime wage provisions. See 29 U.S.C. § 206(a) and 207(a)(1).

         “If a covered employee is not paid a statutory wage, the FLSA creates for that employee a private cause of action against his employer for the recovery of unpaid overtime wages and back pay.” Josendis v. Wall to Wall Residence Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1298 (11th Cir. 2011) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)). The elements of an FLSA claim are: (1) plaintiff was employed by a defendant during the relevant period; (2) plaintiff was [a covered employee]; and (3) the defendant failed to pay plaintiff minimum wage and/or overtime pay. See Quinonez v. Reliable Glass Auto, No. CV-12-000452-PHX-GMS, 2012 WL 2848426 at *2 (D. Ariz. July 11, 2012) (citations omitted).

         Applying these legal standards to the allegations in Plaintiff’s Complaint, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for a violation of the FLSA. The relief Plaintiff seeks-pay for accrued vacation time-is simply not cognizable under the FLSA. See, e.g., Owens v. CEVA Logistics/TNT, No. H-11-2327, 2012 WL 6691115 at * 11 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 21, 2012) (“The FLSA does not contain a requirement to pay unused vacation time when an employee leaves.”); Sosnowy v. A. Perri Farms, Inc., 764 F.Supp.2d 457, 462-63 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (“[T]he FLSA does not provide for accrued vacation.”); Jones v. Washington Health System, No. 2:16-1308, 2018 WL 1536598 at *2 (W.D. Pa. March 29, 2018) (noting that “it is well-settled that ‘the FSLA does not provide recovery for accrued vacation and sick time’”) (quoting Hartman v. White Hall Pharmacy, LLC, 112 F.Supp.3d 491, 493 (N.D.W.V. 2015)).

         The Court will give Plaintiff leave to amend her Complaint. If Plaintiff believes her rights under the FLSA have been violated, she should refer to the legal standards above and ...


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