United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. Pratter United States District Judge.
16, 2019 Shamera Short-Irons alleges that, while employed by
Catham Acres Healthcare Group, she would often work through
her 30-minute unpaid meal break. She claims that when she
reported to her supervisor that Catham Acres employees were
not being paid for some of their work day, she was fired. She
brings this suit for retaliation under the Fair Labor
Standards Act. Catham Acres moves to dismiss. For reasons set
forth below, the Court denies the motion in its entirety.
Short-Irons worked for Catham Acres Healthcare Group for just
under three years. Catham Acres' policies and procedures
stated that employees would receive an unpaid 30-minute meal
break for each shift worked. According to Ms. Short-Irons, she
regularly worked through her meal break and was not
compensated for those 30 minutes of each day. Ms. Short-Irons
reported to Catham Acres staff and supervisors that she was
working through her meal break without pay. Eventually, Ms.
Short-Irons also confronted her direct supervisor, who
allegedly chastised Ms. Short-Irons and told her to go back
to work. Shortly after this interaction, Catham Acres fired
"a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiffs obligation to provide the 'grounds' of his
'entitlement to relief requires more than labels and
conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a
cause of action will not do." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (citations omitted).
To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, therefore, the plaintiff
must plead "factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal,
556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Specifically, "[f]actual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. The question is not whether the plaintiff "will
ultimately prevail. . . but whether [the] complaint [is]
sufficient to cross the federal court's threshold."
Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, 530 (2011)
(citation and quotation omitted). Thus, assessing the
sufficiency of a complaint is "a context-dependent
exercise" because "[s]ome claims require more
factual explication than others to state a plausible claim
for relief." W. Pa. Allegheny Health Sys., Inc. v.
UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 98 (3d Cir. 2010) (citations
evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court adheres
to certain accepted benchmarks. For one, the Court "must
consider only those facts alleged in the complaint and accept
all of the allegations as true." ALA, Inc. v. CCAIR,
Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir. 1994) (citation
omitted); see also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (stating
that courts must "assum[e] that all the allegations in
the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)"). The
Court must accept as true all reasonable inferences emanating
from the allegations and view those facts and inferences in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Rocks v.
City of Phila., 868 F.2d 644, 645 (3d Cir. 1989).
admonition does not demand that the Court ignore or discount
reality. The Court "need not accept as true unsupported
conclusions and unwarranted inferences," Doug Grant,
Inc. v. Greate Bay Casino Corp., 232 F.3d 173, 183-84
(3d Cir. 2000) (citations and quotation omitted), and
"the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the
allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal
conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause
of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not
suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation
omitted). If a claim "is vulnerable to 12(b)(6)
dismissal, a district court must permit a curative amendment,
unless an amendment would be inequitable or futile."
Phillips v. Cty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 236 (3d
Cir. 2008) (citation omitted).
Acres makes two arguments in favor of dismissal: (1) Ms.
Short-Irons failed to exhaust administrative remedies, and
(2) the complaint does not contain adequate details to state
a claim. The Court denies the motion to dismiss, because the
FLSA anti-retaliation provision does not include an
exhaustion requirement and because the complaint adequately
alleges a prima facie case for retaliation.
precedent and the FLSA's plain text show that the FLSA
does not impose an administrative exhaustion
requirement in retaliation actions. The FLSA anti-retaliation
[I]t shall be unlawful for any person ... (3) to discharge or
in any other manner discriminate against any employee because
such employee has filed any complaint or instituted or caused
to be instituted any proceeding under or related to this
chapter, or has testified or is about to testify in any such