Whiteside v. Hover-Davis, Inc., No. 20-798 (2d Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) action under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff maintains that the Act's three-year statute of limitations for willful violations should apply to his claim because he alleged that his employer willfully violated the Act. Plaintiff asks the court to infer willfulness from the mere fact that he was asked for a period of time to perform job responsibilities typically performed by non-exempt employees even though he was classified as exempt.
The court held that the mere allegation of willfulness is insufficient for a plaintiff to secure the benefit of the three-year exception to the Act's general two-year statute of limitations at the pleadings stage. Rather, for the three-year exception to apply at the pleadings stage, a plaintiff must plead facts that plausibly give rise to an inference of willfulness. In this case, plaintiff failed to do so because his allegations permit at most an inference that defendants negligently failed to reclassify him as a non-exempt employee which, without more, is insufficient. The court explained that plaintiff fails to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of defendants' willfulness. Instead, he pleads facts that are merely consistent with defendants' purported willfulness, and thus his claim stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility.