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Rodriguez v. America's Favorite Chicken Co., Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

May 3, 2017




         Plaintiff Stefhany Rodriguez sued Yum Enterprises LLC, Cajun Global LLC, and Cajun Operating Company Inc., alleging in Counts I and II these entities violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay her minimum wage and compensate her for overtime pay. Ms. Rodriguez also alleges in Count III that the Defendants failed to properly supervisor her manager, Michelle Irene Roberts, who assaulted her at work. Yum Enterprises moved to dismiss the negligent supervision claim. (Doc. 16). Cajun Global and Cajun Operating Company, the franchisor defendants, moved to dismiss the complaint in its entirety. (Doc. 20). Because Counts I and II fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted against the Franchisors and the court lacks jurisdiction over Count III, the court will grant both motions.


         A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss attacks the legal sufficiency of the complaint. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the complaint to provide "a short and plain statement of the claim” demonstrating that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(1). A plaintiff must provide the grounds of his entitlement, but Rule 8 rarely requires "detailed factual allegations. "Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). Rule 8 does, however, "demand[ ] more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully -harmed-me accusation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). 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 or conclusions" or "naked assertions" without supporting factual allegations. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 557.

         The Supreme Court explained that A[t]o survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief plausible on its face.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting and explaining its decision in Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). To be plausible the claim must contain enough facts that "allow[ ] the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. 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." Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it' stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557).

         The Supreme Court has identified "two working principles" for the district court to use in applying the facial plausibility standard. The court must assume the veracity of well-pleaded factual allegations; however, the court need not accept as true legal conclusions even when "couched as [] factual allegation[s]" or "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. The second principle is that "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. Under prong one, the court determines the factual allegations that are well-pleaded and assumes their veracity, and then proceeds, under prong two, 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." Id. If the court determines that well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, state no plausible claim, the claim must be dismissed. Id.


         Ms. Rodriguez's amended complaint alleges three causes of action against all Defendants: (1) a violation of the FLSA for failure to pay overtime pay; (2) a violation of the FLSA for failure to pay minimum wage; and (3) negligent supervision under Alabama state law.

         To support those claims, Ms. Rodriguez alleges these facts. Church's Chicken in Alabaster, Alabama employed Ms. Rodriguez as a counter customer service employee from August 22, 2014 until September 5, 2015. Yum Enterprises operates the Church's Chicken under a franchise agreement with Cajun Global and Cajun Operating Company.

         Ms. Rodriguez alleges that she often worked over forty hours during a week but did not receive overtime pay. Ms. Rodriguez claims she is owed $2, 632 in back-pay for 120 unpaid overtime hours, and that she was forced to work while not on the clock and received no compensation for that work. Further, Ms. Rodriguez alleges that she was paid in cash and that no taxes were withheld from her pay. These practices, Ms. Rodriguez claims, violated FLSA.

         On September 5, 2015, Ms. Rodriguez alleges that her supervisor, Ms. Roberts, attacked her. Ms. Roberts placed Ms. Rodriguez's in a chokehold, suffocated her, threw Ms. Rodriguez to the floor and struck her face. Ms. Rodriguez required treatment for her injuries at a local hospital.

         Ms. Rodriguez alleges that the Defendants knew that Ms. Roberts was trouble. The complaint claims that the Defendants knew Ms. Roberts "was managing employees with an iron fist, making routine threats, making disparaging comments to employees, and had made various verbal threats to harm employees." (Doc. 12 at & 33). Further, Ms. Rodriguez claims the Defendants knew Ms. Roberts "displayed a violent method of managing subordinate employees."


         III. ...

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