Demurrers to 70-Year-Old Worker’s Age Discrimination and FLSA Complaint Are Partially Denied, Partially Granted, Per Federal Court Sitting in Texas

Sometimes, a Dallas employment law case will begin with multiple allegations, including age discrimination, failure to comply with the law with regard to wages or overtime, and the like.

It is not usual for there to be a motion (or several motions), usually by the defendant, aimed at narrowing the case down to what is truly at issue – i.e. claims that the plaintiff could conceivably prove, given the factual allegations contained in his or her complaint.

This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, or even longer in some instances.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiff was a 70-year-old man who was employed as a mold maker at a facility owned by the defendant employer. After his employment was terminated in August 2018, the plaintiff asserted claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and the Fair labor Standards Act of 1967 (FLSA). The defendant filed demurrers to the plaintiff’s original complaint, as well as to his first and second amended complaints. Each demurrer by the defendant sought dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims or, alternatively, a more definite statement pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

Decision of the Court

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, denied the defendant’s first demurrer (to the plaintiff’s original complaint) as moot. The defendant’s second and third demurrers were granted in part and denied in part. The federal district court first pointed out that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 8(a)(2) in particular) requires that a plaintiff include in his or her pleading a “short and plain statement” explaining why he or she is entitled to relief from the court. To do this, the plaintiff must include facts that state a claim that is “plausible on its face.” In determining whether or not this has been accomplished, the court may draw reasonable inferences, but it does not have to accept factual allegations as being true legal conclusions.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s FLSA claim consisted merely of “disjointed and vague references” to the defendant’s alleged misconduct, but the employee maintained that he had sufficiently pleaded facts that notified the defendant that it had been sued for overtime and minimum wage violations under the FLSA. The court sided with the plaintiff on this issue, agreeing that he had sufficiently pled his FLSA claim for overtime wages. Thus, the court denied the defendant’s second and third demurrers as to this issue. As to the defendant’s argument concerning the plaintiff’s FLSA collective relief claim, the court agreed with the defendant that dismissal without prejudice was appropriate, given the plaintiff’s failure to plead a plausible claim for collective relief. (Had the discovery deadline not been looming, the court indicated that it might have chosen to order the plaintiff to provide a more definite statement instead.)

As to the plaintiff’s allegations regarding an alleged act of retaliation under the FLSA, the court found that the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to allege such a claim.

Dallas Attorneys Handling Employment Law Matters

The experienced employment law attorneys at Key Harrington Barnes welcomes the opportunity to talk to your business about a wage and hour litigation case or other employment litigation matter. Call us at 214-615-7925 to schedule an appointment at your convenience.

 

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