United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
EDWARD C. HUGLER, Acting Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff,
DOMINION GRANITE & MARBLE, LLC, ET AL., Defendants.
C. CACHERIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
Edward C. Hugler, Acting Secretary of Labor, brings this
action against Defendants Dominion Granite and Marble, LLC,
Raul Chao, and Christian Southwell Berard under the Fair
Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.
(FLSA). The case is before the Court now on Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim [Dkt. 5].
Defendants argue that Plaintiff's Complaint does not
sufficiently demonstrate that injunctive relief is warranted
or that Defendants Chao and Berard are
“employers” within the meaning of the FLSA. For
the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendants'
following allegations of fact drawn from Plaintiff's
Complaint are taken as true for purposes of the present
Motion. See E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon
Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011).
Dominion Granite and Marble, LLC is a Virginia corporation
that, as its name suggests, is in the business of installing
granite and marble. Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶¶ 2, 5. It
employs individuals in positions covered by the FLSA. See
Id. ¶ 6. Defendant Chao owns 92% of the company,
while Defendant Berard - the company's Operations Manager
- owns 5%. Id. ¶ 2. Both Chao and Berard have
supervisory authority over the company's employees and
are “directly involved” in setting the
“terms” and “conditions” of
employment at the company, including the “manner of
payment and compensation.” Id. ¶¶
2016, the Department of Labor launched an investigation into
Defendants' labor practices. Id. The agency
found that, between April 2013 and April 2016, Defendants
failed to pay employees overtime wages at rates prescribed by
sections 7 and 15(a)(2) of the FLSA. Id. Some
employees were improperly paid a salary, while others
“were paid only ‘straight time' for the hours
worked in excess of 40 in a week and did not receive
additional half-time pay for overtime hours.”
Id. During the period in question, Defendants also
failed to maintain adequate timekeeping records for hourly
employees as required by sections 11(c) and 15(a)(5) of the
FLSA. Id. ¶ 8. The agency confirmed during its
investigation that Defendants were aware of their legal
obligations under the FLSA, but willfully failed to meet
them. Id. As a result of the agency's
investigation, Defendants ultimately paid their employees the
amounts unlawfully withheld. Id. ¶ 9.
February 28, 2017, the Department of Labor filed this action
against Defendants seeking injunctive and declaratory relief.
Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss [Dkt. 5] on May 8,
2017. The matter is now fully briefed and ripe for
order to survive a motion to dismiss brought under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must set forth
“a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 570 (2007). A claim is facially plausible “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, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When reviewing a motion
brought under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court “must accept as
true all of the factual allegations contained in the
complaint, ” drawing “all reasonable
inferences” in the plaintiff's favor. E.I. du
Pont de Nemours & Co., 637 F.3d at 440 (citations
omitted). “[T]he court ‘need not accept the
[plaintiff's] legal conclusions drawn from the facts,
' nor need it ‘accept as true unwarranted
inferences, unreasonable conclusions, or
arguments.'” Wahi v. Charleston Area Med. Ctr.,
Inc., 562 F.3d 599, 616 n.26 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Kloth v. Microsoft Corp., 444 F.3d 312, 319 (4th
Cir.2006)) (alterations in original).
first contend that Plaintiff has not set forth sufficient
factual matter in his Complaint to demonstrate that he is
entitled to injunctive relief at this initial stage of the
proceedings. This argument is misguided, as a motion to
dismiss brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6) tests whether relief can be granted, not
whether it should be granted. See United States
v. Maricopa Cnty., Ariz., 915 F.Supp.2d 1073, 1082 (D.
Ariz. 2012) (“A 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss challenges
the legal sufficiency of the pleadings, not the
appropriateness of the relief sought.”); City of
New York v. A-1 Jewelry & Pawn, Inc., 247 F.R.D.
296, 353 (E.D.N.Y. 2007)(“[A] motion for failure to
state a claim properly addresses the cause of action alleged,
not the remedy sought.”); Owens v. Hous. Auth. of
City of Stamford, 394 F.Supp. 1267, 1274 (D. Conn. 1975)
(“The propriety of the redress requested must, of
course, await more advanced steps in this
request for injunctive relief does not constitute an
independent cause of action; rather, the injunction is merely
the remedy sought for the legal wrongs alleged in the . . .
substantive counts.” Fare Deals Ltd. v. World
Choice Travel.Com, Inc., 180 F.Supp.2d 678, 682 n.1 (D.
Md. 2001). Defendants appear to concede that Plaintiff's
Complaint includes sufficient factual material to state a
claim under the FLSA. Indeed, the Complaint plainly alleges
cognizable claims for failure to pay overtime wages and to
keep proper time records. Moreover, nothing in the Complaint
forecloses the possibility that injunctive relief may be
warranted should Plaintiff prevail on his FLSA claims.
Defendants do not appear to contend otherwise. Defendants
instead argue that Plaintiff has failed to put forth enough
factual material to justify awarding relief that Plaintiff
has not yet formally requested through, for example, a motion
for summary judgment.
would be inappropriate, at this early stage of the
proceedings, for the Court to rule on whether an injunction
should issue in this case. See Chao v. Virginia Dep't
of Transp., 157 F.Supp.2d 681, 691 (E.D. Va. 2001),
aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 291 F.3d 276
(4th Cir. 2002) (finding that “the issuance of a
prospective injunction [under the FLSA] depends on findings
of fact which cannot be made in deciding” a motion to
dismiss); see also Dwoskin v. Bank of Am., N.A., 850
F.Supp.2d 557, 573 (D. Md. 2012) (refusing to dismiss a
request for injunctive relief on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
because the court could not “say with legal
certainty” that an injunction should not issue).
Whether Plaintiff is entitled to an injunction is a matter
for the Court to address at a later date, when the record is
better developed. To hold otherwise would put the cart before
the horse and require the Court to make a fact-bound decision
without the benefit of evidence or substantive briefing.
See Chao, 157 F.Supp.2d at 690.
drawing all reasonable inferences in Plaintiff's favor,
see E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., 637 F.3d at
440, Plaintiff has plausibly pled that injunctive relief will
eventually be warranted in this case. Although Defendants
have apparently now made an effort to comply with the FLSA,
see Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 9, “[c]urrent
compliance with the FLSA alone, especially when it results
from scrutiny by the federal government, is not sufficient
grounds for denying a prospective injunction.”
Chao, 157 F.Supp.2d at 690. “Where the
Secretary has established violations of the Act, the district
court should ordinarily grant injunctive relief, even if the
employer is in present compliance, unless the district court
is soundly convinced that there is no reasonable probability
of a recurrence of the violations.” Marshall v. Van
Matre, 634 F.2d 1115, 1118 (8th Cir. 1980). Here,
Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendants willfully
violated the FLSA over a period of three years by failing
both to pay employees overtime wages and to keep adequate
time records. See Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶¶ 6-8.
Defendants' efforts at compliance came only
after Defendants were caught violating the FLSA.
See Id. ¶ 9. There is no indication that