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Plaintiff’s Claim That Defendant Never Compensated Outside Work Fails to Meet 12(b)(6) Standards in Brown v. Lululemon Athletica, Inc.

Any experienced Illinois overtime attorney knows that when filing a lawsuit on behalf of a client, it is important to follow the necessary procedures. Otherwise, the case could be dismissed. The other party will try to dismiss the case as quickly as possible, and one of the first opportunities is the 12(b)(6) motion, otherwise known as “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” When a plaintiff takes the first step and files a complaint, the complaint must include “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Though the standard is fairly liberal, the “factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Complaints that fail to meet the standard are dismissed under 12(b)(6).

In Brown v. Lululemon Athletica, Inc., Plaintiff Lydia Brown sued the defendant for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA) violations, seeking unpaid compensation, statutory penalties, and damages. The plaintiff worked as an education/sales clerk for defendant and claimed that she and others in her position were forced to perform several hours of work for which they were not paid. In her complaint, the plaintiff listed as one example that educators were required to take at least one exercise class per week and were encouraged to take as many as three. Furthermore, the company held two-hour staff meetings at least once a month for which employees received no pay. Educators were also required to listen to inspirational CDs on their own time. All of these activities were job related and the educators should have been duly compensated, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff tried to form a class action lawsuit against the defendant. She twice amended her complaint so that its allegations were more specific. After the second time, the defendant tried to have the complaint dismissed under 12(b)(6). Judge Lydia Brown of the Northern District of Illinois found that the complaint’s allegations were still too vague. For instance, while the plaintiff claimed to be an employee, she failed to state that part of her employment agreement included compensation for exercise classes and listening to CDs. Without evidence of such an agreement, the plaintiff’s claim does not meet the standard set by the IWPCA, which requires evidence of a compensation agreement between the employer and employee.

Judge Brown also found that the complaint failed to properly state a claim under the FLSA. She stated that the FLSA did not cover “gap time” compensation, but rather violations of specific overtime laws. By stating that she was not compensated for exercise classes and listening to CDs, the plaintiff was making a pure gap time claim that did not meet the FLSA requirements. Judge Brown dismissed the plaintiff’s claims without prejudice, which meant that the plaintiff had an opportunity to amend once more and correct problems.

The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour cases, including overtime, vacation pay, meal breaks, and tips. We have offices conveniently located in Oakbrook Terrace and Chicago, Illinois. Contact a Deerfield wage and hour lawyer at the Chicago Overtime Law Center today at 312-869-4095.