United States District Court, W.D. Washington
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Nidia Perez's
motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 20). Having thoroughly considered
the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons explained herein.
bring this employment class action arising out of
Defendants' recruitment, employment, and treatment of
foreign H-2A farm workers. (Dkt. No. 12 at 1.) The sole claim
against Defendant Nidia Perez is for violation of the
Washington Farm Labor Contractor Act (“FLCA”).
(Id. at 31.)
Munger Bros. (“Munger”) is a California blueberry
producer owned by Kewel and Baldev Munger. (Id. at
3-4.) The Mungers also own Defendant Sarbanand Farms
(“Sarbanand”), a Washington blueberry producer.
Perez, a California resident, was employed by Munger, but
also performed work for Sarbanand. (Id. at 3, 10.)
Ms. Perez contacted putative class members in Mexico to
recruit them to harvest blueberries for Munger in California
and for Sarbanand in Washington. (Id. at 10.)
Sarbanand paid Ms. Perez a fee to recruit workers who could
be transferred to Sarbanand's harvest after completing
the blueberry harvest in California. (Id.) Ms. Perez
also recruited workers on behalf of a third company owned by
the Mungers, Crowne Cold Storage (“Crowne”).
These workers were recruited to package blueberries in
California and then be transferred to Sarbanand in
Washington. (Id. at 10.) Ms. Perez directed the
workers she recruited to Defendant CSI Visa Processing's
(“CSI”) office to facilitate required H-2A visas.
(Id.) She also provided CSI with lists of workers to
be given visas to work for Crowne, Munger, and Sarbanand.
(Id. at 11.)
Perez is not registered or licensed in Washington as a farm
labor contractor, nor did she obtain a bond to operate as a
licensed farm contractor. (Id.) Plaintiffs allege
that by failing to do so, Ms. Perez violated the FLCA.
(See Dkt. No. 12). Ms. Perez moves to dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that she is
exempt from the FLCA. (See Dkt. No. 20.)
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) Standard
defendant may move to dismiss when a plaintiff “fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts
all factual allegations in the complaint as true and
construes them in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Vasquez v. L.A. County, 487 F.3d 1246, 1249
(9th Cir. 2007). However, conclusory allegations of law and
unwarranted inferences will not defeat an otherwise proper
Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Id.; Sprewell v. Golden
State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001). To
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 677-78 (2009). 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. Id. at 678.
FLCA, all farm labor contractors must be licensed. Wash. Rev.
Code § 19.30. A farm labor contractor is any person who
for a fee recruits, solicits, employs, supplies, transports,
or hires agricultural employees. Wash. Rev. Code §
19.30.010(4)-(5). However, FLCA does not apply to persons
performing these activities “only within the scope of
his or her regular employment for one agricultural employer
on whose behalf he or she is so acting, unless he or she is
receiving a commission or fee, which commission or fee is
determined by the number of workers recruited.” Wash.
Rev. Code § 19.30.010(8).
Perez argues that FLCA exempts employees of agricultural
employers, thus, the statute does not apply to her.
(See Dkt. Nos. 20, 28.) She relies on the FCLA
exception for persons working within the scope of their
employment for “one agricultural employer” who
are not paid a fee based on the number of workers recruited.
Wash. Rev. Code § 19.30.010(8).
fact that Ms. Perez is an agricultural employee does not, by
itself, bring her under the FLCA exception. Plaintiffs'
first amended complaint alleges that Ms. Perez was employed
by Munger, that she recruited workers to harvest and package
blueberries on behalf of three entities in both California
and Washington, and that Sarbanand paid her a separate fee to
recruit workers for its harvest. (Dkt. No. 12 at 3, 10.) The
Court finds Plaintiffs have alleged sufficient ...