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 a declaratory
judgment regarding wages owed to employees under the Fair
Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (Dkt. 10.) 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.
are, or at relevant times were, employees of Boise
County's Solid Waste and Noxious Weeds Departments.
Pl's Br. at 1-2, Dkt. 11. After receiving an
inquiry from an employee, Boise County discovered that during
various periods from 2014 through 2016, each named employee
in the course of his or her job duties was required to take
the Solid Waste Transfer Site's cash box and receipt book
home at the end of certain shifts and return the items to
work the next day. Compl. ¶ 11, Dkt. 1. An
internal audit showed that these employees were not
compensated for the time spent traveling from the transfer
site to their homes and back, or reimbursed for the
corresponding mileage. Id.
discovery was undertaken, Boise County conducted a further
self-audit to determine the amount of unpaid wages and
mileage reimbursement owed to the affected employees.
Id. ¶ 12. In addition, Boise County calculated
liquidated damages owed consistent with the provisions of 29
U.S.C. § 216(b). Id. ¶ 13. In letters that
were each dated February 28, 2018, Boise County notified the
affected employees of its process, determinations, and
calculations. Id. ¶ 15. The notice asked each
employee to review the hours and calculations and advise
Boise County of any errors by March 16, 2016. Id.
April 4, 2018, Boise County filed a petition for declaratory
relief. Compl., Dkt. 1. Boise County filed the
present motion for declaratory judgment on June 4, 2018.
Mot. Dkt. 10. Boise County asks the Court to declare
the proposed payments of unpaid wages and liquidated damages
are fair and reasonable settlements pursuant to the
requirements of the FLSA. Id. at 1. In support of
its request, Boise County filed signed affidavits from each
of the affected employees. See Affs, Dkts. 16-21.
The individual affidavits each state that the employee has
reviewed the settlement calculations, found no errors, and
has no objection to Boise County's proposed settlement.
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