United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill Chief U.S. District Court Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for declaratory
judgment regarding wages owed to an employee under the Fair
Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (Dkt. 6.) The Court finds these
matters appropriate for decision without oral argument. For
the reasons set forth below, the Court finds it does not have
jurisdiction over the case. Therefore, the Court will deny
the motion and dismiss the case.
October 2011, Defendant Gaitlin Gehrls began volunteering as
an emergency responder for the East Boise County Ambulance
District (District). Compl. ¶ 6, Dkt, 1. In
January 2016, Mr. Gehrls took a paid, full-time position as a
logistics officer for the District doing much of the same
work he was doing as volunteer. Id. However, he
continued to volunteer for the District outside of normal
business hours. Id. At some point, the District
discovered that Mr. Gehrls was not being compensated for
services performed as a volunteer, even though many of those
services were very similar to those he performed as a paid
employee. Id. ¶ 7.
the discovery, the District conducted a self-audit to
determine the amount of unpaid wages owed to Mr. Gehrls.
Id. ¶ 8. In addition, the District calculated
liquidated damages owed to Mr. Gehrls consistent with the
provisions of 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Id. ¶ 9.
According to the District's audit and calculations, the
total due is $9, 103.14. Id. Ex. A at 1. In a letter
dated February 28, 2018, the District notified Mr. Gehrls in
writing of its process, determinations, and calculations.
Id. ¶ 11. The notice asked him to review the
hours and calculations and advise the District of any errors
by March 16, 2018. Id. Mr. Gehrls did not advise the
District of any errors in the calculations. Id.
April 4, 2018, the District filed a petition for declaratory
relief. Compl., Dkt. 1. The District filed the
present motion for declaratory judgment on May 24, 2018.
Mot., Dkt. 6. The District asks the Court to declare
the proposed payment of $9, 103.14 in unpaid wages and
liquidated damages is a fair and reasonable settlement
pursuant to the requirements of the FLSA. Pl's
Br. at 3, Dkt. 7. In support of its request, the
District filed also a signed affidavit from Mr. Gehrls.
Gehrls Aff., Dkt. 8. The affidavit states he
reviewed the settlement calculations, found no error, and has
no objection to the District's proposed settlement.
Id. at ¶ 3.
matter jurisdiction is a “threshold matter, ”
which a court must determine before proceeding to the merits
(Image Omitted) of the case. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a
Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998). A court may
determine subject matter jurisdiction from the facts alleged
in the complaint or, if necessary, from the actual facts in
the case. Thornhill Pub. Co. v. General Tel. & Elecs.
Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979) (citations
omitted). “If the court determines at any time that it
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). It is appropriate for
the Court to “raise the question of subject matter
jurisdiction, sua sponte, at any time during the
pendency of the action.” Snell v. Cleveland,
Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002).
FLSA Settlement Routes
Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) protects workers from
imposition of substandard wages and oppressive working hours.
Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc.,
450 U.S. 728, 739 (1981). Among its provisions, the Act
addresses overtime pay-generally requiring compensation of at
least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for
hours worked by an employee in excess of 40 hours a week. 29
U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). If an employer violates the overtime
pay requirement, the employer is liable to the affected
employee in the amount of the unpaid wages, or unpaid
overtime compensation, and an additional equal amount as
liquidated damages. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b).
FLSA provides two distinct routes to address violations of
overtime requirements. See Lynn's Food Stores, Inc.
v. U.S., 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th Cir. 1982)
(“There are only two ways in which back wage claims
arising under the FLSA can be settled or compromised by
employees.”). The first is an employee-driven process
that uses the judicial system. Dent v. Cox Commc'ns
Las Vegas, Inc., 502 F.3d 1141, 1144 (9th Cir. 2007).
The second is an employer-driven process with oversight
provided by the Department of Labor (DOL). Id. Each
route is detailed below.
employee-driven route, set forth in Section 216(b), gives the
employee the ability to initiate a suit against the employer
to recover wages and damages. 29 U.S.C § 216(b).
Alternatively, under Section 216(c), the DOL Secretary may do
so on behalf of the employee. 29 U.S.C § 216(c). In
either case, the court must approve any settlement that is
reached. Lynn's, 679 F.2d 1350, 1352-53 (11th
Cir. 1982); Fenn v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 2012 WL
6680358, at *1 (Dec. 21, 2012). This approach promotes fair