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Larson v. Fgx International, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

March 10, 2015

KRYSTAL LARSON, On behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
FGX INTERNATIONAL, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

J. THOMAS MARTEN, District Judge.

This case arises out of the alleged unpaid minimum and overtime wages to plaintiff Krystal Larson and other similarly situated FGX employees. Plaintiff alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the Kansas Wage Payment Act ("KWPA"), and the Missouri Minimum Wage Maximum Hour Law ("MMWMHL"). Before the court is defendant FGX International, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 24).

I. Background

Plaintiff is a "Merchandiser" employed by defendant to collect and record product placement and inventory information from retail stores. Merchandisers drive to multiple retail stores each day, using their own vehicles. Plaintiff alleges that defendant inadequately reimburses Merchandisers for transportation and other work-related expenses. She further alleges the unreimbursed expenses, when debited from a Merchandiser's wage, yield earnings below minimum wage and without overtime pay.

Plaintiff filed her first Amended Complaint, with leave of the court, on September 22, 2014. (Dkt. 16). The Amended Complaint alleges three counts: Count I: FLSA minimum wage and overtime violations, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 206(a) and 207(a)(1); Count II: KWPA minimum wage and overtime violations; as provided by the FLSA; and Count III: MMWMHL minimum wage & overtime violations. Plaintiff seeks an opt-in collective action for Count I, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and class actions for Counts II and III pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(2) and (3).

Defendant moves to dismiss plaintiff's Count II KWPA claims pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6).

II. Legal Standard

A party may move to dismiss a complaint for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). When ruling on a 12(b)(6) motions, the court must determine whether the complaint alleges "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal citations and quotations omitted). The complaint must contain more than "labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The allegations must be sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. "While the 12(b)(6) standard does not require that [a] [p]laintiff establish a prima facie case in [his] complaint, the elements of each alleged cause of action help to determine whether [the] [p]laintiff has set forth a plausible claim." Khalik v. United Air Lines, 671 F.3d 1188, 1192 (10th Cir.2012).

III. Analysis

Defendant argues that plaintiff's KWPA claims fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The plausibility of plaintiff's KWPA claim turns on the interplay of the KWPA, the Kansas Minimum Wage Maximum Hour Law ("KMWMHL"), and the FLSA. The court finds that, under Kansas law, a state law claim paralleling FLSA overtime or minimum wage claims is not sustainable.

Defendant relies on decisions from this court to argue that Rule 23 claims for minimum wage and overtime violations brought under the KWPA must be dismissed because the same claims are asserted under the FLSA. (Dkt. 25, at 6-10) (citing Wheaton v. Hinz JJ, LLC, No. 14-2223-RDR, 2014 WL 5311310, at *1-2 (D. Kan. Oct. 16, 2014); Spears v. Mid-America Waffles, Inc., No. 11-2273-CM, 2011 WL 6304126, at *4-5 (D. Kan. Dec. 16, 2011); Garcia v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 799 F.Supp.2d 1167, 1187 (D. Kan. 2011)).

Plaintiff also relies on cases from this court, guided by Elkins v. Showcase, Inc., 704 P.2d 977 (Kan. 1985), to argue that FLSA-based claims may be brought through the KWPA as alternative claims to actual FLSA claims. (Dkt. 28, at 4-9) (citing Tarcha v. Rockhurst Univ. Continuing Educ. Ctr., Inc., No. 11-2487-KHV, 2012 WL 1998782, at *4 (D. Kan. June 4, 2012); Rukavitsyn v. Sokolov Dental Labs., Inc., No. 12-2253-JAR, 2012 WL 3066578, at *4 (D. Kan. July 27, 2012); Garcia, 799 F.Supp.2d at 1187).

A. FLSA Minimum Wage and Overtime Claims Are Improper Under the KWPA

"The KWPA gives employees the right to receive their wages due' and concerns when and how those wages are paid out." Garcia, 766 F.Supp.2d at 1187 (citing K.S.A. § 44-314). The KWPA does not provide any substantive rights, and is therefore only a mechanism for recovery of "wages due." See K.S.A. §§ 44-312 to 44-327. The KWPA thus provides a very general state-law mechanism for enforcing the payment of wages ...


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