United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to
dismiss Plaintiff's South Carolina Payment of Wages Act
("SCPWA") claim (ECF No. 4). For the reasons set
forth herein, Defendant's motion is granted in part and
denied in part.
& PROCEDURAL HISTORY
March 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action in state court
seeking unpaid minimum wages and overtime wages pursuant to
the SCPWA and the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"). Plaintiff, a former sales representative
of Defendant, alleges that Defendant required her to work
off-the-clock in an effort to circumvent the FLSA's
overtime requirements. Defendant removed the action to this
Court on May 6, 2016, and filed the instant motion to dismiss
on May 13. Plaintiff responded on May 31, and Defendant
replied on June 10. Accordingly, these matters are now ripe
motion to dismiss pursuant Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted "challenges the
legal sufficiency of a complaint." Francis v.
Giacomelli, 588 F.3d 186, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citations
omitted); see also Republican Party of N.C. v.
Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) ("A
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . does not resolve
contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the
applicability of defenses."). To be legally sufficient,
a pleading must contain a "short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2).
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
the Supreme Court articulated a "two-pronged
approach" to test the sufficiency of a complaint.
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). First,
the complaint must "contain factual allegations in
addition to legal conclusions." Robertson v. Sea
Pines Real Estate Cos., 679 F.3d 278, 288 (4th Cir.
2012). Under Rule 8's pleading standard, "a
formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action
will not do, " id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555) (internal quotation marks omitted), and
"‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further
factual enhancement'" will not suffice,
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557). Second, the complaint must "contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'"
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
"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. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). More specifically, the
complaint must demonstrate that the plaintiff's right to
relief is more than a mere possibility, but it need not rise
to the level of evincing a probability of success.
Id. Accordingly, "[d]etermining whether a
complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense."
Id. at 679.
ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must
accept as true all of the facts alleged in the complaint and
construe all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
E.g., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon
Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011). The
court must determine whether the allegations give rise to a
plausible right to relief, Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679;
however, it should "not accept ‘legal conclusions
couched as facts or unwarranted inferences, unreasonable
conclusions, or arguments, '" United States ex
rel. Nathan v. Takeda Pharm. N. Am., Inc., 707 F.3d 451,
455 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting Wag More Dogs, LLC v.
Cozart, 680 F.3d 359, 365 (4th Cir. 2012)); see also
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 ("[T]he tenet that a court
must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a
complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions."). Thus,
although the court must accept a plaintiff's well-pleaded
factual allegations as true for purposes of ruling on the
motion, the complaint must nevertheless satisfy the
"two-pronged" test articulated by the Supreme
Court. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
first asserts that Plaintiff's SCPWA claims are preempted
by the FLSA because she is only seeking unpaid minimum and
overtime wages. The Court disagrees. The FLSA provides
exclusive remedies for the enforcement of its own provisions.
Anderson v. Sara Lee Corp., 508 F.3d 181, 194 (4th
Cir. 2007). "This includes claims under the SCPWA that
seek to recover minimum wages and overtime." Degidio
v. Crazy Horse Saloon & Rest., Inc., No.
4:13-cv-2136-BHH, 2015 WL 5834280, at *4 (D.S.C. Sept. 30,
2015). Therefore, in order for Plaintiff's SCPWA claim to
survive Defendant's motion to dismiss, she must have
alleged that Defendant did more than violate the FLSA.
complaint, Plaintiff alleges that "[a]s a sales
associate, [s]he was to be paid base salary of minimum wage
annually, with overtime pay as required by law and commission
based upon sales performance." (Compl., ECF No. 1-1, at
¶7.) Plaintiff further alleges that she "was not
paid all wages due and payable, " (Id. at
¶17), and that "Defendant has thus deprived
Plaintiff of rights granted to her under the [SCPWA],
including her right to receive all wages due to her within
the statutorily mandated time, " (Id.) Giving
Plaintiff the benefit of all reasonable inferences, the Court
concludes that she has alleged a cause of action under the
SCPWA for failure to pay commissions, which the Court
interprets as a due and payable wage not paid within the
SCPWA's mandatory time frame. However, because her causes
of action for minimum wages and overtime wages arise solely
out of the FLSA, any SCPWA claim for those wages would simply
duplicate her FLSA claims. Accordingly, those claims are
preempted and must be dismissed. See McMurray v. LRJ
Rests., Inc., No. 4:10-cv-1435-JMC, 2011 WL 247906, at
*2 (D.S.C. Jan. 26, 2011); Nimmons v. RBC Ins. Holdings
(USA) Inc., No. 6:07-cv-2637-GRA, 2007 WL 4571179, at *2
(D.S.C. Dec. 27, 2007). Having decided that Plaintiff's
SCPWA claim is not preempted to the extent she seeks relief
based on her commission wages, the Court now turns to
Defendant's alternative argument that Plaintiff has
failed to allege that a contract existed for payment of
contends that an employer is not obligated to pay wages, as
defined in the SCPWA, unless there is an employer policy or
employment contract requiring that those wages be paid.
See Anselmo v. West Paces Hotel Grp., LLC, No.
9:09-cv-2466-MBS, 2011 WL 1049195, at *10 (D.S.C. Mar. 18,
2011) (stating that "the [SCPWA] creates a right to be
paid wages due based upon an employment contract.").
Thus, according to Defendant, there can be no SCPWA violation
because Plaintiff has not alleged or produced an employment
contract. The Court disagrees. Plaintiff alleges that
"[a]s a sales associate, [she] was to be paid base
salary of minimum wage annually, with overtime as required by
law and commission based upon sales performance."
(Compl., ECF No. 1-1, ¶7.) Here, the allegation that
Plaintiff was to be paid commission in exchange for making
sales gives rise to a very reasonable inference that there
was some employment agreement between Plaintiff and
Defendant. Unlike the rights to minimum wage and overtime,
which exist pursuant to the FLSA, there is no statutory right
to commission. Thus, Plaintiffs allegation that she was to be
paid commission creates a reasonable inference that the
parties had an employment contract, whether formal or
informal, that gave Plaintiff the right to be paid commission
wages based on her sales performance as an employee. Because
the Court finds that Plaintiffs allegations give rise to a
reasonable inference of some kind of employment contract,
Defendant s argument fails.
foregoing reasons, it is ORDERED that Defendant's motion
to dismiss is ...