Federal Circuit Courts Reject Vague FLSA Overtime Claims
Two recent decisions from the Eighth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal rejected overtime claims based on a lack of detail and supporting facts.
In Holaway v. Stratasys, Inc., the Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the plaintiff’s overtime claim on summary judgment. No. 14-1146 (8th Cir., Nov. 6, 2014). The plaintiff alleged that he was misclassified as exempt under the FLSA and, as a result, his employer failed to pay him overtime. The district court dismissed the claim because the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence that he worked more than 40 hours in any particular workweek. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, explaining that:
[Holaway] failed to put forward any evidence of the amount and extent of his work in excess of forty hours a week for any week worked for Stratasys, let alone evidence of excess hours worked every week of his employment. Holaway has, instead, put forth contradictory and bare assertions of his overtime hours worked. At various times, Holaway has estimated his work hours as between forty-five and seventy hours a week, yet has failed to specifically account for the hours worked. In fact, Holaway failed to put forth any evidence regarding specific weeks where he worked beyond forty hours.
In Landers v. Quality Communications, the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the plaintiff’s overtime claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. No. 12-15890 (9th Cir., Nov. 12, 2014). The district court dismissed the case on the grounds that a plaintiff must do more than assert conclusory allegations that he was not paid for overtime in order to state a plausible claim for relief. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, explaining that although detailed factual allegations of overtime are not required, conclusory allegations are insufficient. Instead, “a plaintiff asserting a claim to overtime payments must allege that she worked more than forty hours in a given workweek without being compensated for the overtime hours worked during that workweek.”
Takeaway: Vague and unsupported claims of unpaid overtime are insufficient to prove liability under the FLSA. The Holaway and Landers decisions provide additional support for employers to challenge these types of claims either on a Rule 12 motion to dismiss or at summary judgment.