United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.
Lisa Kelly (“Plaintiff” or “Kelly”)
has filed this two-count complaint against Defendant Emerge,
Inc. (“Defendant” or “Emege”). She
alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.
§ 200, et seq. (“FLSA”) (Count I)
and wrongful discharge under Maryland law (Count II).
Currently pending is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF
No. 5.) The parties' submissions have been reviewed and
no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D.
Md. 2016). For the reasons that follow, Defendant Emerge,
Inc's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 5) is DENIED.
Court accepts as true the facts alleged in the
plaintiffs' complaint. See Aziz v. Alcolac,
Inc., 658 F.3d 388, 390 (4th Cir. 2011). Lisa Kelly
worked as a Residential Counselor for Emerge, Inc., which
provides residential and daycare services for adults with
developmental, physical, and mental health disabilities.
(Compl. ¶¶ 7-8, ECF No. 1.) Her job required her to
assist residents with daily tasks, perform housekeeping
services, ensure that residents took medications, escort
residents to appointments and on vacations, and write reports
for the use of medical professionals. (Id. at ¶
regularly worked between 80 and 144 hours per week.
(Id. at ¶ 15.) She received hourly rates of pay
ranging from $10.81 to $23.36 depending on the type of work
she performed. (Id. at ¶ 16.) Although her
rates of pay fluctuated, these pay rates did not change based
on the number of hours she worked. (Id. at ¶
18.) Moreover, despite regularly working over forty hours per
week, she did not receive an overtime premium for hours
worked over and above forty hours. (Id. at ¶
17.) In total, Plaintiff was underpaid at least $27, 000 in
unpaid overtime pay. (Id. at ¶ 33.)
Sunday, August 27, 2017, two residents under her supervision
engaged in a physical altercation. (Id. at ¶
19.) Because the facility did not have a working telephone,
Plaintiff permitted one of the residents to contact the
police and report the altercation. (Id. at ¶
20.) After police arrived, the resident who instigated the
first encounter attempted to start a second altercation with
another resident. (Id. at ¶ 22.) Afterward,
Kelly followed company protocol by preparing a written report
for Emerge to facilitate its own report to a state or local
agency. (Id. at ¶ 37.) She also notified her
supervisor and a director about the situation. (Id.
at ¶ 37.) On the very next day, Kelly was placed on
unpaid administrative leave; shortly thereafter, Emerge
terminated her employment. (Id. at ¶¶
24-25.) Kelly then filed this two-count complaint against
Emerge. Defendant has moved to dismiss the Complaint.
8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
a complaint must contain a “short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The
purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of
a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the
facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville,
464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The United States Supreme
Court's opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929
(2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129
S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009), “require that
complaints in civil actions be alleged with greater
specificity than previously was required.” Walters
v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435, 439 (4th Cir. 2012) (citation
omitted). In Twombly, the Supreme Court articulated
"[t]wo working principles" that courts must employ
when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, while a court must
accept as true all factual allegations contained in the
complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are not
afforded such deference. Id. (stating that
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice."); see also Wag More Dogs, LLC v.
Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012)
(“Although we are constrained to take the facts in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff, we need not accept
legal conclusions couched as facts or unwarranted inferences,
unreasonable conclusions, or arguments.” (internal
quotation marks omitted)). Second, a complaint must be
dismissed if it does not allege “a plausible claim for
relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged FLSA violations (Count
contends that Kelly has failed to adequately plead FLSA
violations. It argues that Kelly has merely parroted the FLSA
statute without providing “any facts or allegations to
support her assertion that she is owed overtime.”
(Def.'s Mot. 3, ECF No. 5.) Specifically, Defendant
faults Plaintiff for failing to provide adequate information
about the type of work she performed and how her worked
corresponded to her fluctuating rates of pay. (Id.
FLSA “establishes a minimum wage and overtime
compensation for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours in
each workweek for many employees.” Perez v. Mortg.
Bankers Ass'n, ___ U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 1199, 1204,
191 L.Ed.2d 186 (2015) (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted). Overtime compensation must be paid “at a rate
not less than one and one-half times” the
employee's regular rate. 29 U.S.C. § 207. In
Hall v. DIRECTV, 846 F.3d 757 (4th Cir. 2017), the
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
articulated the requirements for properly alleging an FLSA
violation. Rejecting the rule of some district courts which
required plaintiffs to provide an approximation of the number
of hours for which they were inadequately compensated, the
Court adopted “a more lenient approach” which
merely requires the Plaintiff to “provide sufficient
factual allegations to support a reasonable inference that he
or she worked more than forty hours in at least one workweek
and that his or her employer failed to pay the requisite
overtime premium for those overtime hours.”
Hall, 846 F.3d at 776-77. A plaintiff may satisfy
this standard by proffering any set of facts to permit the
Court to find her pleadings plausible, including an estimated
length of time of her average workweek during the applicable
period, information about her average pay rate, and the like.
Id. at 777; see also Ridenour v. B&H New
& Used Auto Parts, Inc., ELH-17-763, 2017
WL 6206045, at *4 (D. Md. Dec. 8, 2017) (denying a motion to
dismiss after applying the pleading requirements described in
Ridenour, plaintiff alleged that he typically worked
Monday through Friday for nine hours per day. Id.
His Complaint explained that his employer paid him at a rate
of $1, 000 per week and then later at a rate of $1, 350 per
week. Id. Nevertheless, his employer did not pay him
for the work he performed beyond forty hours per week.
Id. The Court found these factual allegations
sufficient to permit the Court to find the alleged FLSA
violations plausible according to the standard articulated in
Hall. Id.; see also Allen v. Express
Courier International, Inc., 3:18-cv-00028-MOC-DSC, 2018
WL 3577263, at *2 (W.D. N.C. July 25, 2018) (determining that
plaintiffs met the pleading standard as articulated in
Hall by claiming that they worked “more than
forty hours per week, that defendants knew of these hours,
yet failed to pay plaintiffs overtime wages, and that
plaintiffs' vehicle expenses caused their pay to drop
below minimum wage”); Ra'Palo v. Lucas Designs
Inc., 9:17-cv-00710-DCN, 2017 WL 3118057, at *3 (D.S.C.
July 21, 2017) (finding FLSA violations plausible in light of
Plaintiffs' claim that they worked “six days a week
and ‘sometimes' worked as much as 12 hours a
day'” without overtime compensation).
Complaint provides sufficient factual details to satisfy
Hall's lenient standard. It provides, just as in
Ridenour, information about her hourly rates of pay:
they ranged from $10.81 to $23.36 depending on the type of
work performed. (Compl. ¶ 16.) As in Ridenour,
the Complaint gives an estimate about the average length of
Kelly's work week: between 80 and 144 hours per week.
(Id. at ¶ 15.) The Complaint also explains the
sort of work that Kelly performed, which renders plausible
her alleged exceptionally long work weeks: she provided
residential care to adults with developmental, physical, and
health disabilities, including assisting them with daily
tasks, rendering housekeeping services, managing their
medication regimen, escorting them to appointments and on
vacations, and writing reports for medical professionals.
(Id. at ¶ 13.) Finally, the Complaint alleges
in a general way-as the Ridenour Court found
acceptable-that Lucy never received overtime pay when she
worked beyond forty hours per week. (Id. at ¶
17.) In sum, the Complaint provides all the factual material