United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Aberdeen Division
Donald Cook, on behalf of himself and others, alleges that
Defendants, three separate insurance companies, misclassified
him as an independent contractor and failed to pay him
overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Defendants filed motions to dismiss the claims [11, 13, 30].
Cook has responded and the matter is now ripe for review.
Having considered the matter, the Court finds the motions
should be granted in part and denied in part.
a former "Agency Manager," for the Defendants. In
this role he managed insurance agents who sold insurance
lines for all three defendants: Southern Farm Bureau Life
Insurance Company ("SFB Life"), Southern Farm
Bureau Casualty Insurance Company ("SFB Casualty");
and Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Company
("Mississippi Farm Bureau"). Since at least 2004
Cook performed this role pursuant to an Agency Manager's
Contract. A 2004 version of the Contract featured both SFB
Casualty and Mississippi Farm Bureau as parties while a 2017
version featured only Mississippi Farm Bureau. See,
Compl. Ex. 1 & 2, Agency Manager Contracts [1-1, 1-2].
alleges that Defendants, acting as joint employers,
misclassified him as an independent contractor, when in
reality he was an employee, and that Defendants did not pay
him overtime pay for weeks in which he worked in excess of 40
hours, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"). Defendants filed the pending motions
seeking to dismiss the complaint for failing to state a
deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court is
limited to the allegations set forth in the complaint and any
documents attached to the complaint. Walker v. Webco
Indus., Inc., 562 Fed.Appx. 215, 216-17 (5th Cir. 2014)
(citing Kennedy v. Chase Manhattan Bank USA, NA, 369
F.3d 833, 839 (5th Cir. 2004)). "[A plaintiffs]
complaint therefore 'must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Phillips V. City of
Dallas, Tex., 781 F.3d 772, 775-76 (5th Cir. 2015)
(quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129
S.Ct 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009)).
is facially plausible when the pleaded factual content
"allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 127
S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). "[P]laintiffs must
allege facts that support the elements of the cause of action
in order to make out a valid claim." Webb v.
Morella, 522 Fed.Appx. 238, 241 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting
City of Clinton, Ark. v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp.,
632 F.3d 148, 152-53 (5th Cir. 2010) (internal quotation
marks omitted)). "[C]onclusory allegations or legal
conclusions masquerading as factual conclusions will not
suffice to prevent a motion to dismiss," Id.
(quoting Fernandez-Montes v. Allied Pilots
Ass'n, 987 F.2d 278, 284 (5th Cir. 1993) (internal
quotation marks omitted)). "Dismissal is appropriate
when the plaintiff has not alleged 'enough facts to state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face' and has
failed to 'raise a right to relief above the speculative
level.'" Emesowum v. Hous. Police Dep't
561 Fed.Appx. 372, 372 (5th Cir. 2014) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955).
alleges four causes of action against Defendants: a failure
to pay overtime wages (count 1); a failure to keep time
records (count 2); a failure to pay PICA taxes (count 3); and
a failure to withhold PICA taxes from Plaintiffs' pay
argue that there are no private causes of actions for a
failure to keep time records under PLSA or a failure to pay
and withhold PICA taxes. Cook concedes that point. Therefore
counts 2, 3, and 4 of the complaint will be dismissed.
to the failure to pay overtime wages claim. Defendants object
to Cook's grouping of all three Defendants under the
single moniker of "Parm Bureau". They each argue
that Cook's grouping of the Defendants under a single
name prevents Cook from alleging an employment relationship
with each Defendant, and that Cook has not successfully
pleaded he is jointly employed by Defendants. Defendants
further argue that that Cook has failed to allege facts about
their hours worked necessary to support their claim.
requires employers to compensate employees who work more than
40 hours a week with overtime pay on those excess hours. 29
U.S.C. § 207(a). If more than one person or entity
controls an individual, they may be considered "joint
[I]f the facts establish that the employee is employed
jointly by two or more employers, i.e., that employment by
one employer is not completely disassociated from employment
by the other employer(s), all of the employee's work for
all of the joint employers during the workweek is considered
as one employment for purposes of [PLSA].
29 C.F.R. § 791.2. Joint employers "are
responsible, both individually and jointly, for compliance
with all of the applicable provisions of the act, including
the overtime provisions, with respect to the entire