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Parrott v. Marriott International, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 6, 2017




         I. Background

          Stephane Parrott and Kevin Williams (“Plaintiffs”) individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals, filed an Amended Collective Action Complaint (“Amended Complaint”) against Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”) seeking relief under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et. seq.

         Plaintiffs seek to recover unpaid overtime wages on behalf of themselves and other current and former Food and Beverage Managers (“Food Managers”) who worked more than forty hours a workweek at any hotel operated as a “Courtyard by Marriott” (“Courtyard”). Plaintiffs allege that Marriott willfully misclassified Food Managers as “executives” exempt from FLSA overtime pay protections. In reality, Plaintiffs say they performed such jobs as “unloading delivery trucks, stocking supplies, cooking” and “general restaurant preparatory work.” Plaintiffs allege that such duties were “manual labor” that “did not materially differ from the duties of non-exempt hourly employees.” Amended Complaint, paragraph 21.

         It is not contested that the Courtyard hotels in which Plaintiffs worked are franchised by various companies. According to Plaintiffs, Marriott was their joint employer and responsible for the FLSA violations. Marriott claims that Plaintiffs fail to satisfy the standards necessary to plead an action based on joint employment, and file a motion to dismiss (“Motion to Dismiss”), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         That motion is DENIED.

         II. Legal Standard

         A motion to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint. RMI Titanium Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 78 F.3d 1125, 1134 (6th Cir. 1996). A court must “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accept its allegations as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.” DirecTV, Inc. v. Treesh, 487 F.3d 471, 476 (6th Cir. 2007). Dismissal is proper only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of the claims that would entitle him or her to relief.” Zaluski v. United Am. Healthcare Corp., 527 F.3d 564, 570 (6th Cir. 2008). A complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is plausible on its face "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. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

         III. Discussion

         A. Sixth Circuit Standard

         At issue is whether Plaintiffs plead sufficient facts to demonstrate that Marriott is their joint employer. The FLSA defines an “employer” as “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee … .” 29 U.S.C.S § 203(d). “Under the FLSA, the issue of joint employment . . . depends upon all of the facts in the particular case and is largely an issue of control.” Bacon v. Subway Sandwiches & Salads LLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19572, *8 (E.D. Tenn. Feb. 19, 2015) (internal quotations omitted). “The Sixth Circuit has not formulated a test for identifying a joint employer for FLSA purposes; however, in the context of Title VII, the Sixth Circuit has considered three potential factors to be considered in determining if an entity may be considered a joint employer: (1) exercise of the authority to hire, fire, and discipline; (2) control over pay and insurance; and (3) supervision.” Id. See Sanford v. Main St. Baptist Church Manor, Inc., 327 Fed.Appx. 587, 594, (6th Cir. 2009) (“in the NLRB context” factors “such as exercise of authority to hire, fire, and discipline, control over pay and insurance, and supervision … can bear on whether an entity, which is not the formal employer, may be considered a joint employer”). Other district courts in the Sixth Circuit have applied these factors. See Reid v. Quality Serv. Integrity, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5878, *6 (E.D. Tenn. Jan. 19, 2016); Williams v. King Bee Delivery, LLC, 199 F.Supp.3d 1175, 1180-1181 (E.D. Ky. 2016); Politron v. Worldwide Domestic Servs., LLC, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52999, *2-7 (M.D. Tenn. May 17, 2011).

         In this district, the focus in joint employment cases has been on “whether the plaintiff's alleged joint employer (i) had the power to hire and fire [] employees, (ii) supervised and controlled employee work schedules or conditions of employment, (iii) determined the rate and method of payment, and (iv) maintained employment records.” Dowd v. DirecTV, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36, *11-12 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 4, 2016).

         Plaintiffs direct the Court to two district court decisions in the Second Circuit - decisions that use a “functional control test” to determine the issue of joint employment. Olvera v. Bareburger Group LLC, 73 F.Supp.3d 201, 205 (S.D.N.Y. 2014); Ocampo v. 455 Hospitality LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125928, *18-19 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 14, 2016). However, these cases have no persuasive authority, and there is no need for the Court to apply them. Importantly, sufficient precedent exists within the Sixth Circuit to evaluate the sufficiency of Plaintiffs' allegations. Accordingly, this Court will ...

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