from the United States District Court for the District of
Colorado (D.C. No. 1:16-CV-02140-LTB)
Alexander Hood, Towards Justice, Denver, Colorado (Alexander
L. Gastman and Penn A. Dodgon, AndersonDodson, P.C., New
York, New York, on the briefs), for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
M. Wilkins, Law Firm of Teresa Wilkins, LLC, Englewood,
Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees.
BRISCOE, HARTZ, and PHILLIPS, Circuit Judges.
Maria Fernandez and Laura Chacon appeal the dismissal by the
United States District Court for the District of Colorado of
their Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims against
Defendants Clean House and Cesar Barrida. Plaintiffs allege
that Defendants failed to properly compensate them as
employees. The general limitations period under the FLSA is
two years, but that period is expanded to three years for
willful violations. See 29 U.S.C. § 255(a).
Plaintiffs' employment had ended between two and three
years before they filed suit. Although the complaint alleged
that Defendants' violations had been willful, Defendants
moved to dismiss the claims as untimely on the ground that
Plaintiffs had not supported their allegation of willfulness
with sufficiently specific facts. The district court agreed
with Defendants and dismissed the claims with prejudice.
Plaintiffs argue that the statute of limitations is an
affirmative defense which they did not need to anticipate in
their complaint by alleging willfulness, and, in any event,
their allegation of willfulness was adequate. We agree.
Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we
filed their original complaint on August 24, 2016, alleging
violations of the FLSA and Colorado law. (They were joined by
a third plaintiff who is not a party to this appeal.) They
later filed an amended complaint (the Complaint), which is
the operative pleading on appeal. The Complaint alleges that
Plaintiffs began working as house cleaners for Defendants in
May 2013, with Fernandez continuing until February 2014 and
Chacon until April 2014. Both allegedly worked well over 40
hours per week, often working 11-12 hours a day and up to 77
hours per week. According to the Complaint, Defendants
misclassified them as independent contractors instead of
employees and as a result Defendants denied them, among other
things, FLSA-required overtime pay, breaks, and minimum
wages. On the issue of scienter, the Complaint alleged the
15.At all times material to this action, Defendant Clean
House knew of the FLSA and CWA's
requirements that it pay at least the minimum wage
to all employees covered by the aforementioned acts for each
and every hour worked and overtime rates of one and one-half
their regular rates of pay for all hours worked over forty in
a given workweek to nonexempt workers.
16.In choosing to pay Plaintiffs as it did, Defendant Clean
House willfully violated the mandates of the laws at
Aplt. App. at 50 (emphasis added).
moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a timely claim.
Citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544 (2007), they argued that the Complaint
"allege[d] no supporting facts in support of" the
allegation of willfulness and "[u]nsupported labels and
legal conclusions . . . are insufficient to establish a
plausible claim." Aplt. App. at 88. The district court
agreed, citing both Twombly and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), in ruling that the Complaint
had not plausibly alleged willfulness. It later entered an
order dismissing Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice.
Although the claims of the third plaintiff continued, the
court certified its order as final under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(b). Plaintiffs appeal the dismissal of
their FLSA claims but do not appeal the dismissal of their
claims under Colorado law.
review de novo a district-court dismissal of a complaint for
failure to state a claim. See Slater v. A.G. Edwards
& Sons, Inc., 719 F.3d 1190, 1196 (10th Cir. 2013).
"To defeat a motion to dismiss, a complaint must plead
facts sufficient to state a claim to relief that is ...