United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DIANA M. BAIRD, Plaintiff,
TECH PROVIDERS, INC., et al., Defendants.
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss. (Doc. # 6). Defendants' Motion is fully briefed.
(Docs. # 14 and 15).
Tech Providers, Inc. (“TPI”) is a staffing
company that places personnel at various companies, including
Southern Company Services. (Doc. # 1, ¶¶ 1, 9-10).
Plaintiff, Diana M. Baird (“Plaintiff”), is a
former employee of TPI. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 1, 9). On
January 29, 2015, Plaintiff signed an Agreement Concerning
Employment with TPI which contained a non-compete clause.
(Doc. # 1 at ¶ 15). The Agreement Concerning Employment
with TPI states that “Company [TPI] hereby employs
Employee as an employee and Employee hereby accepts such
employment with Company.” (Doc. # 6-1 at 2). As an employee
of TPI, Plaintiff was placed at Southern Company Services on
February 5, 2015. (Doc. # 1 at ¶¶ 1, 28).
2016, after working for TPI at Southern Company Services for
over 16 months, Baird resigned her employment with TPI. (Doc.
# 1 at ¶ 17). In July 2016, Plaintiff went to work for a
different staffing company through which she was also placed
at Southern Company Services. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 17).
15, 2016, Claude Estes of TPI e-mailed Plaintiff to inform
her that TPI believed that she was in violation of the
non-compete agreement with TPI. (Doc. # 1 at p. 5). Estes
also informed Plaintiff that TPI planned to sue to enforce
the non-compete agreement, including the provision in which
she agreed to be responsible for TPI's costs and
attorneys' fees in enforcing the agreement. (Doc. # 1 at
p. 5). However, TPI offered Plaintiff the opportunity to come
“back on board” with TPI if she so chose. (Doc. #
1 at p. 5). When Plaintiff refused the offer to return to
work for TPI, on August 5, 2016, TPI filed suit in the
Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama asserting a breach of
contract claim based on the non-compete clause in the
Agreement Concerning Employment. (See Tech Providers,
Inc. v. Diana M. Baird, Circuit Court of Shelby County,
Alabama Case No. CV-2016-900646.00, Doc. # 2).
September 6, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this action alleging
that TPI and Estes violated the prohibition against forced
labor found in 18 U.S.C. § 1589. (Doc. # 1).
Standard of Review
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint
provide “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Having said that, the complaint must
include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that
contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8
standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely
upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked
assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in
the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving
party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289,
1295 (11th Cir. 2007).
Twombly, a complaint must present plausible theories
of liability and allege specific facts establishing each
claim. To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must
“state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937,
1949 (2009). Although “[t]he plausibility standard is
not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '”
the complaint must demonstrate “more than a sheer
possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.”
Id. A plausible claim for relief requires
“enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that
discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.
Supreme Court has identified “two working
principles” for a district court to use in applying the
facial plausibility standard. First, in evaluating motions to
dismiss, the court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded
factual allegations; however, the court does not have to
accept as true legal conclusions when they are “couched
as  factual allegation[s].” Iqbal, 129 S.Ct.
at 1950. Second, “only a complaint that states a
plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss.” Id. Application of the facial
plausibility standard involves two steps. Under one prong,
the court must determine the scope and nature of the factual
allegations that are well-pleaded and assume their veracity;
and under the other prong, the court must proceed to
determine the claim's plausibility given the well-pleaded
facts. That task is context specific and, to survive the
motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its
“judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer
more than the mere possibility of misconduct.”
Complaint asserts a single claim against Defendants. She
contends that Defendants violated the Trafficking Victims
Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA). 18 U.S.C. § 1589. Section
1589 makes it illegal to provide or obtain the labor or
services of a person:
(1) by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint,
or threats of physical restraint to that person or another
person; (2) by means of serious harm or threats of serious
harm to that person or another person; (3) by means of the
abuse or threatened abuse of law or legal process; or (4) by
means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the
person to believe that, if that person did not perform ...