United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiffs have brought this wage and hour case as a
collective action against their employer, Defendant Kaiser
Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc.
(“Kaiser”), alleging federal and state overtime
compensation violations. See ECF No. 14-2. Pending
before the Court is Kaiser's renewed motion to dismiss.
ECF No. 15. The motion is fully briefed, and no hearing is
necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the following
reasons, the Court grants Kaiser's motion and dismisses
the Amended Complaint without prejudice.
are current or former engineering or maintenance technician
employees of Kaiser. ECF No. 14-2 ¶ 3. Plaintiffs allege
that Kaiser has failed to pay them appropriate overtime
wages. Id. ¶¶ 6-9. Pursuant to a
collective bargaining agreement, Plaintiffs are entitled to a
“pay differential” of either $2.50 or $3.00 per
hour more than the base pay rate as overtime. Id.
¶¶ 5- 6. Plaintiffs broadly assert that they worked
more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay.
Id. ¶¶ 7-9. Plaintiffs seek backpay,
attorneys' fees, and damages pursuant to the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), Maryland Wage and Hour
Law (“MWHL”) and Maryland Wage Payment and
Collection Law (“MWPCL”) and “treble
damages” under the MWPCL. Id.
original Complaint alleged in conclusory fashion that they
“frequently worked more than forty (40) hours in a
statutory workweek, ” and that “defendants failed
to pay plaintiffs proper overtime compensation at a rate that
included the appropriate shift differentials in accordance
with the requirements of [the FLSA, MWHL, and the
MWPCL].” ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 7-9. In response to
Kaiser's dispositive motions challenging the sufficiency
of the pleadings, ECF No. 8 at 4-6, Plaintiffs amended their
Complaint, ostensibly in an effort to cure their pleading
deficiencies, ECF No. 10. Accordingly, the Court accepted the
Amended Complaint as the operative complaint and denied as
moot Kaiser's original motion to dismiss. ECF No.
Amended Complaint's overtime claims added very little
factual context to the original claims, despite knowing that
Kaiser had challenged their factual sufficiency. The Amended
Complaint added only that “[d]uring the two year period
immediately prior to the filing of this Complaint and
continuing thereafter, ” the Plaintiffs worked overtime
to which they were entitled an commensurate overtime wage or
“shift differential” as set forth in their
collective bargaining agreement. ECF No. 14-2 ¶¶
7-9; compare ECF No. 14-2 with ECF No.
1. Kaiser now renews its motion to dismiss the
overtime collective action for failure to state a claim. ECF
Standard of Review
motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) tests the
sufficiency of the complaint. Presley v. City of
Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006). The
Court accepts “the well-pled allegations of the
complaint as true, ” and construes all facts and
reasonable inferences most favorably to the plaintiff.
See Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th
Cir. 1997). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint's
factual allegations “must be enough to raise a right to
relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all
the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful
in fact).” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted). “Threadbare
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
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555) (“[A]
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of a cause
of action's elements will not do.”). Likewise, the
Court need not accept unsupported legal allegations, see
Revene v. Charles Cty. Comm'rs, 882 F.2d 870, 873
(4th Cir. 1989), legal conclusions couched as factual
allegations, Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286
(1986), or conclusory factual allegations devoid of any
reference to actual events, United Black Firefighters of
Norfolk v. Hirst, 604 F.2d 844, 847 (4th Cir. 1979).
contends, as it did previously, that Plaintiffs fail to
allege sufficient facts to state a plausible federal and
state overtime claims. ECF No. 15 at 4-7. The Court agrees.
“The FLSA is best understood as the ‘minimum
wage/maximum hour law.'” Trejo v. Ryman Hosp.
Props., Inc., 795 F.3d 442, 446 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting
Monahan v. Cty. of Chesterfield, 95 F.3d 1263, 1266
(4th Cir. 1996)). The FLSA provides that employers must pay
one-and-a-half times the normal wage to non-exempt employees
who work more than 40 hours in a statutory workweek. 29
U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). Both the MWHL and the MWPCL
similarly require employers to pay overtime for hours worked
in excess of a 40-hour workweek. See Quickly v. Univ. of
Md. Med. Sys. Corp, No. CCB-12-321, 2012 WL 4069757, at
*6 (D. Md. Sept. 14, 2012) (MHWL is “state
parallel” of FLSA and pleading requirements
“mirror those of federal law”); Chavez v.
Besie's Corp., No. GJH-14-1338, 2014 WL 5298032, at
*4 (D Md. Oct. 10, 2014) (“[A] violation of the MWPCL
depends entirely on violation of another law, either the MWHL
or the FLSA.”). The MWPCL further allows for treble
damages where plaintiffs can demonstrate that the overtime
wages are more than two weeks overdue and wages were not
withheld “as a result of a bona fide dispute.”
Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-507.2(a)-(b).
make out a plausible overtime claim, a plaintiff must 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 v. DIRECTV, LLC, 846 F.3d 757,
777 (4th Cir. 2017). Although the United States Court Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit made clear in Hall v. DIRECTV,
LLC that this Court must construe charitably the facts
sufficient to survive challenge, it nonetheless made clear
that Plaintiffs must allege some facts to
“nudge their claim from conceivable to
plausible.” Id. at 776- 77. Indeed, no
particular factual recitation is required. Plaintiffs,
however, must include some facts “that will permit the
court to find plausibility.” Id. at 777. In
that regard, “plaintiffs seeking to overcome a motion
to dismiss must do more than merely allege that they
regularly worked in excess of forty hours per week without
receiving overtime pay.” Id.
amendment adds no facts by which this Court could infer a
collective overtime wage claim under even the minimal
particularity standard set forth in Hall. Id. at
777. Instead, Plaintiffs recite boilerplate elements of an
overtime claim with no factual context. Because Hall
endorsed a lenient approach, but not a standardless one, mere
legal recitation devoid of any facts cannot survive
challenge. Id.; see also Quickly, 2012 WL
4069757, at *6; Chavez, 2014 WL 5298032, at
arguments to the contrary are unavailing. Plaintiffs contend
that reference to their “shift differential” pay
rate under their collective bargaining agreement provides
sufficient facts by which the Court can infer they worked in
excess of forty hours per work week. ECF No. 16 at 2-3 &
n.3. The Court fails to see the logic of this argument. The
Amended Complaint provides no facts by which this Court can
infer how and in what capacity Plaintiffs worked more than 40
hours in a given week. Nor does the Amended Complaint
meaningfully provide “a time frame for Kaiser's
alleged misconduct.” Id. at 3 n.3. The Amended
Complaint adds that the violations spanned a two-year period,
which also happens to be the allowable limitations period.
See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a); McLaughlin v.
Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 131-32 (1988). But this
addition is simply more boilerplate that does not allow this
Court or Kaiser to discern the nature of the particular
claims. Without more, Kaiser is deprived of the minimal
notice necessary to defend the claims. See Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555 (explaining that the purpose of the complaint
is to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . .
claim is and the grounds on which it rests”).
Consequently, the Amended Complaint must be dismissed.
See Peterson v. M.J.J., Inc., No. JKB- 16-3629, 2017
WL 4098755, *4 (D. Md. Sept. 13, 2017) (allegations
insufficient when complaint alleged that
“[t]hroughout [the Plaintiff's] employment
. . . Plaintiff . . . regularly worked over forty hours a
week yet was not paid at the proper overtime rate”
(emphasis added)), aff'd, 720 Fed.Appx. 702 (4th
Plaintiffs' reliance on cases in which more
particularized FLSA claims survived challenge does not
advance Plaintiffs' cause. See Acey v. HMS Host USA,
Inc., No. 8:18-cv- 01395-PX, 2019 WL 2177239, *1 (D. Md.
May 20, 2019) (alleging four to six hours of overtime per
week, centralized scheme by employer to undercompensate
plaintiffs, and examples of overtime such as working while on
maternity leave); Gandy v. RWLS, LLC., 308 F.Supp.3d
1220, 1223-25 (D. N.M. 2018) (alleging plaintiff was
scheduled to work more than 12 hours in a day and 84 hours in
a week); Ra'Palo v. Lucas Designs Inc., No.
9:17-cv-00710-DCN, 2017 WL 3118057, *3 (D.S.C. July 21, 2017)
(alleging 6-day work week, 12 hours per day, resulting in 15-