Ninth Circuit Rules ‘Generalized Allegations' Insufficient to Plead Wage Claim Under FLSA

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By Lisa Nagele

Nov. 12 — A cable installer in Nevada can't proceed with his Fair Labor Standards Act wage and hour claims because his complaint didn't point to a specific week in which he was entitled to but denied overtime and minimum wage payments, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Nov. 12.

Affirming a district court decision granting Quality Communications Inc.'s motion to dismiss, the Ninth Circuit found that, when applying the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), to FLSA claims, it is no longer enough for a worker to simply allege that an employer failed to pay required overtime and minimum wage compensation.

The case presented an issue of first impression for the Ninth Circuit to address the degree of specificity required to state an FLSA claim. “Although the circuit courts are in harmony on what is not required by Twombly and Iqbal, there is no consensus on what facts must be affirmatively pled to state a viable FLSA claim post-Twombly and Iqbal,” the court said.

“Although plaintiffs in these types of cases cannot be expected to allege ‘with mathematical precision,' the amount of overtime compensation owed by the employer, they should be able to specify at least one workweek in which they worked in excess of forty hours and were not paid overtime wages,” Judge Johnnie B. Rawlinson wrote for the court.

In this case, Greg Landers only made generalized allegations without any detail about a specific workweek in which he worked over 40 hours and was not paid overtime or minimum wages, Rawlinson said.

Text of the opinion is available at