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White v. Relay Resource

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

July 9, 2019



          John C. Coughenour United States District Judge.

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Relay Resources's motion to dismiss (Dkt. No. 15). Having thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court hereby GRANTS the motion for the reasons explained herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant Relay Resources contracts with agencies and companies in the Pacific Northwest to fill staffing needs, specializing in finding employment for individuals with disabilities. One such agency Relay Resources contracts with is Defendant General Services Administration (“GSA”). (Dkt. No. 3 at 6.) In December 2017 or January 2018, Relay Resources hired Plaintiff Debra White as an office clerk. (Id. at 5-6.) Plaintiff is deaf in both ears and requires accommodations to work. (Id.) In February 2018, Plaintiff alleges that she received a notice to begin work at GSA's office in Auburn, Washington. (Id. at 6.) On March 5, Plaintiff arrived at GSA's office, but she alleges that she did not receive any job training from any GSA employee once she arrived. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that she waited in the mailroom for an hour until she was told by a GSA staff member to go home because she was not scheduled to begin work that day. (Id.)

         Three days later on March 8, Plaintiff was called back to GSA's Auburn office, where she began performing data entry work. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that, almost immediately after starting at GSA, she was subjected to various forms of disability discrimination, including being disciplined for failing to hear a supervisor's instructions, being cut-off from communication with other employees, and not being granted access to a laptop or work phone. (Id. at 6-7.) Plaintiff also alleges that Relay Resources failed to provide reasonable accommodations for her disability, including by failing to provide Plaintiff with a sign-language translator. (Id.) On March 13, five days after beginning work, Plaintiff was told by a GSA employee to take the rest of the day off. (Id. at 7.) From March 13 until August 31, Plaintiff was kept on paid leave by Relay Resources, and was not allowed to work at GSA's Auburn office or any other Relay Resources job site. (Id.)

         On April 24, Plaintiff attended a meeting with representatives from both Relay Resources and GSA, during which Plaintiff alleges she explained the discrimination she had suffered while working at GSA's office. (Id. at 8-9.) Plaintiff asserts that, after the April 24 meeting, GSA investigated her discrimination claims and informed Relay Resources that it found no wrongdoing. (Id. at 9.) On August 31, Plaintiff was terminated from her position with Relay Resources. (Id. at 11.) Plaintiff alleges that Relay Resources informed her that she had been terminated because GSA no longer contracted with Relay Resources. (Id.)

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit alleging nine causes of action against both Relay Resources and GSA, who she claims were joint employers. (Id. at 11-12.) Plaintiff brings disability discrimination claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C § 12101-02; the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008 (ADAA), 42 U.S.C § 12101-02; and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C §§ 701, 791 (Section 501), and 793 (Section 503). (Id. at 12-17.) Plaintiff also brings claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”), and negligent infliction of emotional distress (“NIED”), a claim for unpaid wages under both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 203, and the “Unpaid Wages Wage Prohibition Act” (Unpaid Wages Act), a breach of contract claim, and a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. (Id. at 17-21.) Relay Resources moves to dismiss Plaintiff's Section 501 claim, FLSA claim, Unpaid Wages claim, and breach of contract claim. (Dkt. No. 15 at 1.)


         A. Motion to Dismiss Legal Standard

         The Court may dismiss a complaint that “fail[s] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009). 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. at 678. A plaintiff is obligated to provide grounds for his or her entitlement to relief that amount to more than labels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). “[T]he pleading standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed factual allegations,' but it demands more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         B. Section 501 Claim

         Plaintiff alleges that Relay Resources discriminated against her on the basis of her disability, in violation of Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. (Dkt. No. 3 at 16-17.) Section 501 provides a cause of action for federal employees who allege disability discrimination against “each department, agency, and instrumentality in the executive branch.” 29 U.S.C. § 791 (emphasis added). Plaintiff concedes that Relay Resources is a private, non-profit corporation and not an executive agency of the federal government. (Dkt. No. 3 at 2.) Therefore, Relay Resources motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Section 501 claim is GRANTED. Because Relay Resources cannot be held liable under Section 501, the claim is DISMISSED with prejudice.

         C. FLSA and Unpaid Wages Act

         Plaintiff alleges that, by terminating her after six months of employment, Relay Resources withheld her future earnings, in violation of both the FLSA and the Unpaid Wages Wage Prohibition Act. (Id. at 18-19.) In order to assert a claim under the FLSA, Plaintiff must allege facts to show that she worked for a period of time in which she was entitled to minimum wages or overtime wages, and that she did not receive those wages. Landers v. Quality Comms. Inc., 771 F.3d 638, 645 (9th Cir. 2015). Plaintiff does not allege that Relay Resources failed to pay her minimum wage during her period of employment or her period of paid leave. Nor does Plaintiff allege that she worked any period of overtime for which she was not compensated. Instead, Plaintiff alleges in her complaint that she lost future wages when she was improperly terminated by Relay Resources. (Dkt. No. 3 at 19.) Although the FLSA may provide recovery of future wages in limited circumstances, they are not applicable here. See Little v. Tech. Specialty Prods., LLC, 940 F.Supp.2d 460 (E.D. Tex. 2013). Instead, as a general matter, the FLSA does not permit recovery of lost future ...

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