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Castillo v. United Rentals, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

March 19, 2018

RICARDO CASTILLO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED RENTALS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the court is Defendant United Rentals, Inc.'s (“United Rentals”) motion to dismiss Plaintiff Ricardo Castillo's class and collective actions claims in their entirety. (MTD (Dkt. # 16).) The court has considered the motion, the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the motion to dismiss, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. No party has requested oral argument. (See MTD; Resp. (Dkt. # 19).) Being fully advised, the court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part United Rentals's motion to dismiss.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Mr. Castillo brings a class and collective action on behalf of current and former employees of United Rentals, asserting various wage and hour claims under federal and state law. (See generally Compl. (Dkt. # 1).) United Rentals is a company that rents various equipment. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 19.) Mr. Castillo, and other putative class and collective members, worked as Equipment Associates for United Rentals. (Id. ¶ 16.) Equipment Associates perform tasks such as taking inventory, preparing rental equipment for delivery, checking and fixing rental equipment, loading and unloading rental equipment, and resolving other customer needs. (Id. ¶ 4.) Mr. Castillo worked for United Rentals from February 2, 2002, until December 2016 in Woodinville, Washington. (Id.) He was classified as a non-exempt, hourly employee and usually earned around $22.25 per hour. (Id. ¶ 22.)

         Mr. Castillo primarily challenges United Rentals's wage and hour practices. Mr. Castillo alleges that Equipment Associates were “typically scheduled to work over ten hours a day, five days per week.” (Id. ¶ 23.) He further alleges that they were “often denied compensation for all hours worked, including overtime for work in excess of forty hours per week.” (Id.; see also Id. ¶ 79 (“United Rentals regularly required [employees] to work in excess of forty hours per week, but did not compensate them at an overtime rate.”).) Employees purportedly received “incorrect wage statements” that did not accurately reflect the hours they worked. (Id. ¶ 29.) Moreover, United Rentals often required employees to work off-the-clock, which increased the amount of overtime compensation that employees did not receive. (Id. ¶ 79.)

         Mr. Castillo also brings claims pertaining to United Rentals's denial of meal or rest breaks. United Rentals allegedly required employees to “perform significant work off-the-clock and without compensation during meal periods.” (Id. ¶ 24; see also Id. ¶ 89 (“[Employees] are routinely required to work through rest and meal periods to assist customers and managers with work-related inquiries.”).) Moreover, United Rentals purportedly “deducts thirty minutes per workday for meal periods, or alters the timekeeping records to show a thirty-minute meal period, despite the fact that work is too demanding to allow [employees] to take full, legally compliant thirty-minute meal periods.” (Id.) Thus, employees work off-the-clock and without compensation through their lunch period. (Id.) Even when employees are able to take a break, Mr. Castillo asserts that the breaks are “often interrupted and less than thirty minutes” because United Rentals requires them to abandon their breaks to assist customers who call or arrive at the store. (Id. ¶ 25.) This time that the employees work allegedly goes “unrecorded and uncompensated.” (Id. ¶ 28.)

         Based on these practices, Mr. Castillo brings both an opt-in collective action asserting violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), and an opt-out class action asserting violations of Washington state law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. (Id. ¶¶ 32, 40.) Specifically, Mr. Castillo alleges that United Rentals: (1) failed to compensate employees with minimum and overtime wages as required by the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.; (2) failed to pay employees minimum wage as required by the Washington Minimum Wage Act (“WMWA”), RCW §§ 49.46, et seq.; (3) failed to pay employees overtime wages as required by the WMWA; (4) failed to permit employees to take meal and rest breaks; (5) failed to pay all wages due upon termination in violation of RCW 49.46.090; (6) willfully refused to pay wages owed in violation of RCW 49.52.050; and (7) violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”), RCW §§ 19.86, et seq., through its unfair and deceptive wage practices. (Compl. ¶ 3.) United Rentals moves to dismiss all of Mr. Castillo's claims for failure to state a claim. (See MTD.) The court now addresses the motion.

         III. ANALYSIS

         United Rentals moves to dismiss all of Mr. Castillo's claims for three reasons. (MTD at 1.) First, United Rentals argues that Mr. Castillo's FLSA and state law claims regarding minimum wage and overtime pay violations consist entirely of conclusory allegations and thus fail to meet the pleading standard set by the Ninth Circuit in Landers v. Quality Communications, Inc., 771 F.3d 638 (9th Cir. 2014). (Id. at 5-8.) Second, United Rentals contends that Mr. Castillo's CPA claim independently fails as a matter of law, as a CPA claim cannot rest solely on alleged wage-and-hour violations. (Id. at 8-10.) Third, United Rentals argues that Mr. Castillo's requests for injunctive and declaratory relief must be dismissed because he, as a former employee, lacks standing to seek such relief. (Id. at 10-11.)

         In response, Mr. Castillo concedes that he cannot seek injunctive or declaratory relief and agrees that these requested remedies must be dismissed. (Resp. at 1 n.1.) Thus, the court dismisses Mr. Castillo's requests for injunctive and declaratory relief. However, Mr. Castillo maintains that he has adequately stated a claim for which relief can be granted. (See generally Resp.) The court reviews the relevant legal standard on a motion to dismiss before turning to the adequacy of Mr. Castillo's claims.

         A. Legal Standard

         Dismissal for failure to state a claim “is proper if there is a lack of a cognizable legal theory or the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.” Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011) (internal quotation marks omitted). “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain 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) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “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.” Id. Although the standard “asks for more than sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully, ” it is not “akin to a probability requirement.” Id. Thus, the plausibility requirement “simply calls for enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal” liability for the alleged misconduct. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         When considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court construes the complaint in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Livid Holdings Ltd. v. Salomon Smith Barney, Inc., 416 F.3d 940, 946 (9th Cir. 2005). The court must accept all well-pleaded facts as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Wyler Summit P'ship v. Turner Broad. Sys., Inc., 135 F.3d 658, 661 (9th Cir. 1998). “Mere conclusory statements” or “formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of action, ” however, “are not entitled to the presumption of truth.” Chavez v. United States, 683 F.3d 1102, 1108 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). On a motion to dismiss, the court may consider the pleadings, documents attached to the pleadings, documents incorporated therein, or matters of judicial notice. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Van Buskirk v. Cable News Network, Inc., 284 F.3d 977, 980 (9th Cir. 2002)).

         In Landers v. Quality Communications, Inc., the Ninth Circuit specifically addressed the pleading standard for wage and hour claims. 771 F.3d at 641-42. Landers noted that “[p]re-Twombly and Iqbal, a complaint under the FLSA for minimum wages or overtime wages merely had to allege that the employer failed to pay the employee minimum wages or overtime wages.” Id. at 641. Post-Twombly and Iqbal, “at a minimum, a plaintiff asserting a violation of the FLSA overtime provisions must allege that she worked more than forty hours in a given workweek without being compensated for the hours worked in excess of forty hours during that week.” Id. at 645. The Ninth Circuit acknowledged that plaintiffs “cannot be expected to allege ‘with mathematical precision, ' the amount of overtime compensation owed” because information regarding compensation and scheduling are often “in the control of the defendants.” Id. Nonetheless, the plaintiff “should be able to allege facts . . . [regarding] at least one workweek, ” and thus, the complaint must contain “detail regarding a given workweek when [the plaintiff] worked in excess of forty hours and was not paid overtime for that given workweek and/or was not paid minimum wages.” Id. at 646.

         B. Mr. Castillo's Claims

         Mr. Castillo pursues seven claims. The first three claims involve minimum wage and overtime violations under federal and state law. (See Compl. ¶ 3.) The fourth claim alleges violations of meal and rest break requirements. (Id.) The fifth and sixth claims assert other state law violations derivative of his first four claims. (See Id. ¶¶ 92-102.) The seventh claim alleges a CPA violation. The court addresses the claims in turn.

         1. Minimum Wage and Overtime Claims

         Mr. Castillos brings three claims concerning United Rentals's alleged violations of minimum wage and overtime pay laws: one under the FLSA and two under Washington state law.[1] The parties sharply disagree on whether Landers requires Mr. Castillo to identify a specific calendar week when a violation occurred. (Compare MTD at 5-6, with Resp. at 5.) United Rentals argues that Mr. Castillo fails his burden of alleging even a single week during which he was entitled to, but denied, minimum wage or overtime pay. (MTD at 5; see also Reply (Dkt. # 25) at 3.) Mr. Castillo, on the other hand, asserts that United ...


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