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Hanna v. American Cruise Lines, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 18, 2019

RIMON HANNA, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN CRUISE LINES, INC., & DOES 1 THROUGH 10, inclusive, Defendants.

          RULING ON DEFENDANT AMERICAN CRUISE LINES, INC.'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Rimon Hanna, proceeding pro se, brings this action against Defendants American Cruise Lines, Inc. ("ACL"), and Does 1 through 10, inclusive. See Doc. 1. Does are the "agent or employee of each of the remaining Defendants." Id. ¶ 6. He alleges employment claims related to his time as an executive chef for Defendant ACL. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. ACL filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's initial Complaint, [Doc. 1], Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint to address a concern raised by ACL, [Doc. 17 at 2], and the Court then granted Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint to clarify that he retained his federal law claims and to include his request for damages, [Doc. 22]. This ruling resolves ACL's motion to dismiss, [Doc. 14], which I construe as now addressed to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, [Doc. 24 (the "SAC")].

         I. BACKGROUND

         The facts herein are taken from the allegations in Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, which are accepted as true only for the purposes of this Ruling.

         In February 2017, ACL hired Plaintiff to be an executive chef on one of its cruise ships. SAC ¶ 7. His interviewer and prospective boss, Chef Thomas Leonard, had promised him that he would be paid a flat rate of $225 per day in addition to getting his travel and living expenses covered as well. Id. ¶¶ 7-8. ACL would also hire a kitchen crew-including five chefs-to assist him, and that he would be working nine to ten hours a day, if not less. Id. ¶¶ 8, 10. Plaintiff began working for ACL on March 15, 2017. Id. ¶ 9.

         During his employment, ACL had consistently provided Plaintiff with fewer than five chefs; at one point, there was only one chef working under him. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff alleges that ACL exacerbated the chef shortage due to improperly classifying all chefs, including Plaintiff, as exempt from earning overtime compensation. Id. ¶¶ 11. Once the chefs realized that they had to work approximately fifteen hours per day without overtime and that non-exempt workers, such as the dishwashers, were actually earning more due to overtime pay, they would leave the ship without notice. Id. ¶¶ 11, 13.

         In addition to the long work hours and short-staffing problem, ACL made many other misrepresentations to him. For example, he was told that his workday would begin between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., when, in fact, he had to start at 4:30 a.m. and would finish around 9:30 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. Id. ¶¶ 32, 35-36. He was also not told that he had non-chef duties, such as helping the dishwashers, cleaning the kitchen every Thursday and Friday night to prepare for potential FDA inspections, loading delivery boxes, and taking the trash out of the kitchen. Id. ¶¶ 36-37.

         Moreover, he was told that as a manager, he could discipline and terminate staff for bad behavior. Id. ¶¶ 41, 46. Plaintiff had to report rule violations to Leonard and the hotel manager instead because he was not authorized to discipline the kitchen staff. Id. ¶ 41. Leonard was also the person in charge of scheduling, hiring, and training staff, as well as setting the menu, ordering food and supplies, and other tasks. Id. ¶¶ 43-45. Plaintiff had no say in these matters. Id.

         On July 14, 2017, Plaintiff complained about being short-staffed and having to work sixteen hours a day to his superiors, Leonard and Chelsea Hargis. Id. ¶¶ 22, 23. Upon information and belief, Hargis is Leonard's boss and ACL's company director for the west coast. Id. ¶¶ 22, 24. Plaintiff also asked Hargis to be compensated for his overtime hours. Id. ¶ 24.

         On July 22, 2017, Plaintiff heard from ACL's hotel manager that Leonard wanted him to go on vacation. Id. ¶ 25. However, when Plaintiff texted Leonard about when he should return from vacation on July 24, 2017, Leonard replied, "[W]e are going separate ways." Id. ¶ 26. Plaintiff took this to mean that he was fired. Id.

         Plaintiff contacted the San Diego office of the U.S. Department of Labor in April 2018. Id. ¶¶ 15, 17. The Department informed him that he was not eligible to file a claim with the Department because he had earned more than minimum wage and any retaliation was not for being a member of a protected class pursuant to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Id. ¶ 16. The Department of Labor's Seattle office confirmed this information and also told him that he was not required to file with the Department before filing a lawsuit to pursue his FLSA claims. Id. ¶¶ 17, 18.

         Plaintiff brings claims of wrongful termination, unpaid wages, retaliation, breach of contract, intentional misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation.[1] Id. at 1. He also alleges violations of 29 U.S.C. § 207 and Section 215(a)(3) of the FLSA against Defendants, but these appear duplicative of his FLSA unpaid wages and retaliation claims. See id.

         He had initially included claims relating to the violation of the Connecticut Minimum Wage Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-56, et seq., in his initial Complaint. Doc. 1 at 1. ACL moved to dismiss, arguing in part that Plaintiff had no standing to file such claims because he has never lived nor worked in Connecticut. Doc. 15 ("ACL Mem.") at 3-4. Plaintiff agreed and so filed an Amended Complaint. See Doc. 17 ("Pl. Mem.") at 2. ACL then argued that the Amended Complaint appeared to remove references to the FLSA, thereby casting doubt upon this Court's subject-matter jurisdiction over this action. Doc. 19 at 2. After being granted leave by this Court, Plaintiff subsequently filed a Second Amended Complaint to clarify that he maintained his FLSA claims and to include a request for damages. SAC at 1, 23-24.

         II. ...


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