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Pleickhardt v. Major Motors of Pennsylvania, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 21, 2017




         Presently before me is the Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 8) filed by Defendants Major Motors of Pennsylvania, Inc. d/b/a Major Hyundai of Stroudsburg (“Major Motors”) and Nadder Nejad (“Nejad”) (collectively, “Defendants”). Plaintiff Scott Pleickhardt (“Plaintiff” or “Pleickhardt”) alleges that his former employer, Major Motors, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 209 et seq. (“FLSA”), the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, 43 P.S. § 333.101 et seq. (“MWA”), and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 P.S. § 260.1 et seq. (“WPCL”) and wrongfully terminated his employment in violation of public policy. (See Doc. 1, generally). Defendants now move to dismiss Plaintiff's minimum wage claims under the FLSA and MWA, his WPCL claim, and his wrongful termination claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (See Docs. 8-9). Because Plaintiff fails to allege facts sufficient to satisfy the public policy exception to Pennsylvania's general rule of employment at-will, Plaintiff's wrongful termination claim will be dismissed with prejudice. However, because Plaintiff adequately pleads his FLSA and MWA failure to pay minimum wage claims and his WPCL failure to pay agreed upon salary claim, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss those claims will be denied.

         I. Background

         The facts as alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint are as follows:

         Plaintiff was hired by Major Motors as a service advisor in or around February 2014. (See Doc. 1, ¶ 10). At the time, Plaintiff was classified as an exempt employee pursuant to the FLSA and MWA. (See id. at ¶ 11). The parties agreed that Plaintiff would be paid a weekly salary of $525.00 plus commissions based on labor sales. (See id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff's total monthly labor sales regularly doubled those of the other service advisors in the same department. (See id. at ¶ 13).

         In mid-October 2016, Defendants enacted the “Service Department Time off and Absence Policy” (the “Policy”). (Id. at ¶ 14 and Ex. A). The Policy provided, inter alia: “[a]ll employees receive one personal and two sick days a year”; “[t]hree lateness count as one absence”; and “[a]ll salary and commission based employees that require time off that they do not have available will have the time missed deducted from their pay at the end of the month based on their base pay and commission averaged out as an hourly rate.” (Id.).

         The day he received a copy of the Policy, Plaintiff complained about its legality to Brian Healy (“Healy”), the service department manager, and Nejad, owner of Major Motors. (See id. at ¶¶ 4, 15). Nejad responded that the Policy was legal and would be enforced as written. (See id. at ¶ 15). The next day, Plaintiff reiterated to Healy his view that the Policy was illegal. (See id. at ¶ 16).

         On November 3, 2016, slightly more than two weeks after Plaintiff complained about the Policy, Healy issued Plaintiff a write-up that was based on false allegations regarding purported mistakes made by Plaintiff on a customer bill. (See id. at ¶¶ 18-19 and Ex. B). Healy, as instructed by Nedad, informed Plaintiff that he would be terminated unless he repaid Defendants $535.35, the cost which was allegedly incurred as a result of Plaintiff's purported billing errors. (See id. at ¶ 20 and Ex. B). Plaintiff refused to reimburse Defendants and he was immediately terminated. (See id. at ¶ 21).

         Plaintiff received his final paycheck in mid-November 2016 for the October 26, 2016-November 8, 2016 pay period. (See id. at ¶ 22 and Ex. C). Plaintiff worked approximately forty-eight (48) hours between October 26, 2016 and his last full day, November 2, 2016, and was paid a gross salary of $525.00. (See id. at ¶ 41). The earnings statement accompanying the paycheck indicated a “miscellaneous” deduction by Defendants in the amount of $414.71. (See id. at ¶ 22 and Ex. C). Plaintiff's pre-tax pay for his final pay period was $107.29, and his net pay for that period was $11.60. (See id.).

         Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff commenced this action by filing a seven-Count Complaint against Defendants on February 28, 2017 containing the following claims: (1) Count I - FLSA retaliatory termination; (2) Count II - FLSA failure to pay minimum wage; (3) Count III - FLSA failure to maintain records; (4) Count IV- wrongful termination; (5) Count V - WPCL failure to pay salary as agreed; (6) Count VI - MWA failure to pay minimum wage; and (7) Count VII - failure to maintain records. (See Doc. 1, generally). By Stipulation of the parties, Counts III and VII of the Complaint were dismissed with prejudice. (See Doc. 7, generally; Doc. 10, generally). On April 24, 2017, Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss and supporting brief seeking dismissal of Counts II, IV, V, and VI of the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (See Docs. 8-9, generally).[1] Plaintiff filed his brief in opposition to Defendant's Motion on May 8, 2017, (see Doc. 11, generally), and Defendants' reply brief was submitted on May 22, 2017. (See Doc. 13, generally). Oral argument was held on Defendants' Motion on September 18, 2017 at the request of Plaintiff. (See Docs. 13-14, generally). The Motion to Dismiss is now ripe for disposition.

         II. Discussion

         A. Legal Standard.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). When considering a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court's role is limited to determining if a plaintiff is entitled to offer evidence in support of her claims. See Semerenko v. Cendant Corp., 223 F.3d 165, 173 (3d Cir. 2000). The Court does not consider whether a plaintiff will ultimately prevail. Id. A defendant bears the burden of establishing that a plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim. See Gould Elecs. v. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 178 (3d Cir. 2000).

         A pleading that states a claim for relief must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The statement required by Rule 8(a)(2) must “‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). Detailed factual allegations are not required. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. However, mere conclusory statements will not do; “a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff's entitlement to relief.” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). Instead, a complaint must “show” this entitlement by alleging sufficient facts. Id. While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a ...

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