United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. BREDAR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Lisa Johnson brought the instant action against her former
employer, CRC Holdings, Inc. (“CRC”), and its
owner, Cregg R. Seymour (“Seymour”), alleging
that she was not paid the full wages she was due under the
Fair Labor Standards Act, the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and
the Maryland Wage Payment Collection Law. (Compl., ECF No.
1.) Defendants have filed a MOTION TO DISMISS AND/OR TO STAY
PROCEEDINGS AND COMPEL ARBITRATION (ECF No. 7), and Plaintiff
has responded (ECF No. 9). No hearing is necessary. Local
Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below,
Defendants' motion will be granted as a motion to stay
proceedings and compel arbitration.
Standard for Dismissal for Failure to State a Claim
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)).
Facial plausibility exists “when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. An inference
of a mere possibility of misconduct is not sufficient to
support a plausible claim. Id. at 679. As the
Twombly opinion stated, “Factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” 550 U.S. at 555. “A pleading
that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do.' . . . Nor does a complaint suffice if it
tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of
‘further factual enhancement.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555, 557). Although when considering a motion to
dismiss a court must accept as true all factual allegations
in the complaint, this principle does not apply to legal
conclusions couched as factual allegations. Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555.
Allegations of the Complaint[]
a company that provides court reporting services. (Compl.
¶ 2.) Plaintiff alleges that she was employed by CRC as
a Production Coordinator from August 18, 2014, through June
30, 2015, before she was promoted to Office Manager, a
position she occupied until April of 2016. (Id. at
¶ 21.) Plaintiff's complaint relates exclusively to
the period of her employment as a Production Coordinator,
during which time she had little discretion in performing her
tasks, had no supervisory role, performed no data analysis or
interpretation, and did not set policy for CRC's
business. (Id. at ¶¶ 33-40.) As a
Production Coordinator, Plaintiff alleges that she was
routinely required to work in excess of forty hours per week:
often working through lunch, staying at the office late,
responding to phone calls during what was otherwise her
personal time, and engaging in weekend travel. (Id.
at ¶¶ 47-61.) Nonetheless, Plaintiff alleges that
she never received any overtime compensation during the
period in question, but was instead paid a flat rate based on
an annual salary. (Id. at ¶ 62.) Therefore,
Plaintiff alleges, in failing to pay overtime, Defendants
acted in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938,
29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 (2017) (“FLSA”),
the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. &
Empl. §§ 3-401-3-431 (LexisNexis 2016)
(“MWHL”), and the Maryland Wage Payment
Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§
3-501-3-509 (LexisNexis 2016) (“MWPCL”). (Compl.
base their motion to dismiss on the premise that Plaintiff
waived her rights under the applicable wage laws when she
entered into a Separation Agreement and Release (“the
Agreement”) on May 7, 2016. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss
¶ 2.) Because a ruling on this affirmative defense is
improper at this stage in the proceedings, and because the
Agreement is extrinsic to the Complaint and not relied on by
it, Defendants' motion to dismiss will be denied.
However, even if the Court were to consider this defense, it
would not find that Plaintiff waived her claims under the
pertinent statutes. Furthermore, Defendant Seymour is a
proper party under the pertinent statutes, so Defendants'
motion that he be dismissed will likewise be denied. However,
because the Agreement also contained a valid arbitration
clause, Defendants' motion to compel arbitration will be
granted, and the case will be stayed pending arbitration of
Motion to Dismiss
Proper Considerations on a Motion to Dismiss
fail to present any justification why, on a motion to
dismiss, the Court should consider their argument that
Plaintiff waived her right to sue.
a defense to a claim for relief in a pleading must be raised
in a responsive pleading. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b). The Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure carve out seven exceptions for
defenses that may be raised on a motion to dismiss, including
failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
See Id. Under such a motion, courts generally
constrain their considerations to the allegations of the
complaint and any attached documents, but may also consider
extrinsic evidence that is “integral to and explicitly
relied on in the complaint” and the authenticity of
which is unchallenged by the plaintiffs. Am. Chiropractic
Ass'n v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234
(4th Cir. 2004).
motion to dismiss is based on the notion that Plaintiff
waived her right to sue Defendants when she signed the
Agreement. (Defs.' Mot. to Dismiss ¶ 2.) This
affirmative defense does not obviously fit under any of the
enumerated exceptions under Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure,  so consideration of the argument is not
timely. Even assuming that Defendants' argument could
properly be considered under Rule 12(b)(6), the evidence upon
which Defendants rely (i.e., the Agreement) was
neither attached to the Complaint nor integral to or relied
upon by the ...