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Yarte v. CHHJ Seattle, LLC

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

May 29, 2019

RYAN YARTE, Plaintiff,
v.
CHHJ SEATTLE, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS

          Robert S. Lasnik, United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on “Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).” Dkt. #13. For the following reasons, plaintiff's motion is GRANTED in part.

         INTRODUCTION

         Beginning in April 2018, Plaintiff Ryan Yarte was an employee of defendant CHHJ Seattle, LLC. Dkt. #20 at ¶¶ 3.15-3.17; Dkt. #15 at 2. The parties dispute the time and circumstances of plaintiff's termination. Yarte asserts that when CHHJ offered him employment, he informed CHHJ of his upcoming Marine Corps Reserve drill. Dkt. #20 at ¶ 3.16. CHHJ responded by offering Yarte employment in two “periods.” Ex. A, Dkt. #16-1 at 2. Period 1 began on April 18, 2018 and ended on May 29, 2018, prior to Yarte's Reserve drill. Id.; Dkt. #20 at ¶ 3.29. Period 2 was set to begin on June 25, 2018, following the completion of his drill. Ex. A, Dkt. #16-1 at 2; Dkt. #20 at ¶ 3.29. Plaintiff participated in drill with his Marine Corps Reserve unit from May 31, 2018 to June 22, 2018. Dkt. #20 at ¶ 3.29. Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated on June 24, 2018. Dkt. #20 at ¶ 3.30. Defendants deny that allegation and do not offer a specific date of termination. Dkt. #12 at 4, ¶ 37. Defendants allege that the first period concluded as agreed upon, and the second period “never occurred.” Dkt. #15 at 2.

         In his Complaint, plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to pay him overtime during period 1, willfully withheld wages, and terminated him in violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 U.S.C. § 4301, et seq. Dkt. #1. Defendants answered by denying several of plaintiff's facts and allegations and raising eleven affirmative defenses. Dkt. #12. Defendants' Answer denies that this Court has jurisdiction (Id. at 2, ¶ 6), denies that it is an “employer” within the meaning of USERRA (Id. at 2, ¶ 9), and asserts that plaintiff's claim must fail because “a mandatory element of the statute has not been met” (Id. at 7, ¶ 10). Plaintiff moved for judgment on the pleadings on these three issues. Dkt. #13. Defendants admitted jurisdiction in their response, but continue to contest their status as an “employer” under USERRA and whether all mandatory statutory elements have been met. Dkt. #15. Because federal jurisdiction is proper and the parties no longer dispute it, [1] the Court will consider the two remaining issues.[2] Plaintiff also requests a finding that defendants' Answer does not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(b) with respect to these three issues. Dkt. #13 at 5.

         DISCUSSION

         “Judgment on the pleadings is proper when the moving party clearly establishes on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Hal Roach Studios, Inc. v. Richard Feiner and Co., 896 F.2d 1542, 1550 (9th Cir. 1990). The Court must “accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Fleming v. Pickard, 581 F.3d 922, 925 (9th Cir. 2009).

         A. USERRA “Employer”

         USERRA defines “employer” as:

(A) Except as provided in subparagraphs (B) and (C), the term “employer” means any person, institution, organization, or other entity that pays salary or wages for work performed or that has control over employment opportunities, including-
(i) a person, institution, organization, or other entity to whom the employer has delegated the performance of employment-related responsibilities;
(ii) the Federal Government;
(iii) a State;
(iv) any successor in interest to a person, institution, organization, other entity referred to in this ...

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