United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND
DNYING IN PART MOTION TO DISMISS
N. Parrish United States District Court Judge.
Shafer sued Young Automotive Group, Inc. (YAG), Spencer
Young, and Kelly Moss for violations of the Equal Pay Act
(EPA). Shafer also asserted additional claims against YAG.
Young and Moss move to dismiss the EPA claim with prejudice.
[Docket 10.] The court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the
is a former employee of YAG, a corporation that owns and
manages car dealerships. Young is the co-owner and
co-chairmen of YAG. He works at the Layton headquarters. Moss
is the Executive Director of YAG and also works at the Layton
was hired by YAG in 2000 and worked as a Corporate Controller
from 2013 to 2016. Shafer alleges that she was
“similarly situated” to other male employees,
including Young, Moss, and another employee with the job
title of Corporate Controller, Robert Beaslin. Shafer further
alleges that she “was paid less than other male
employees with substantially similar job duties, ”
including Young, Moss and Beaslin. In particular, she asserts
that she was paid less than Beaslin despite the fact that
they shared the same job title and “had equal duties
and responsibilities.” This pay disparity continued,
even though Shafer “performed much of the work that Mr.
Beaslin was supposed to have performed.” YAG, Young,
and Moss “were responsible for determining Shafer's
pay and made the decision to pay her less than male employees
with substantially similar job duties and
sued YAG for gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and
retaliation. She also asserted an EPA claim against YAG,
Young, and Moss.
and Moss argue that the EPA claim against them should be
dismissed for two reasons. First, they argue that they cannot
be held liable under the EPA because neither of them is an
“employer” as that term is defined under the
statute. Second, they argue that Shafer has not sufficiently
pleaded a violation of the EPA because she has not given
factual details to substantiate her claim that her job duties
were substantially similar to the duties of male co-workers
who were paid more.
INDIVIDUAL LIABILITY UNDER THE EPA
provides that “No employer . . . shall discriminate . .
. between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to
employees . . . at a rate less than the rate at which he pays
wages to employees of the opposite sex . . . for equal
work.” 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). Young and Moss argue
that they cannot be held liable under this statute because
they were not Shafer's “employer.” In support
of this argument, they cite a handful of district court
rulings stating that the term “employer” in the
EPA does not include supervisors or managers. See,
e.g., Converse v. City of Oklahoma City, 649
F.Supp.2d 1310, 1320 (W.D. Okla. 2009) (“The court
finds that no claim can be made against the individual
defendants because, as with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
of 1964, individual supervisors cannot be held personally
liable under the Equal Pay Act.”); Peters v. Black
Tie Value Parking Serv., Inc., No. CIV-12-809-D, 2013 WL
149773, at *3 (W.D. Okla. Jan. 14, 2013) (same); Harris
v. City of Harvey, 992 F.Supp. 1012, 1013 (N.D. Ill.
1998) (same); Brassfield v. Jack McLendon Furniture,
Inc., 953 F.Supp. 1438, 1449 (M.D. Ala. 1996) (same).
Some of these district court rulings reason that the EPA does
not permit individual liability because it is “a blood
sibling of” Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities
Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which do
not permit supervisor liability. See Harris, 992
F.Supp. at 1013. The court respectfully disagrees with these
district court rulings because the term
“employer” in the EPA is defined broadly.
8 of Tile 29 of the United States Code is known as the Fair
Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). 29 U.S.C. § 201. The
FLSA establishes a minimum wage, child labor standards,
recordkeeping requirements, and overtime pay for part-time
and full-time workers. The EPA is an amendment to the FLSA
and is also located in Chapter 8 of Tile 29. See 29
U.S.C. § 206(d); Cal. Dep't of Indus. Relations,
Div. of Indus. Welfare v. Homemakers, Inc., of L.A., 423
U.S. 1063, 1065 n. 2 (1976) (noting that the EPA was an
amendment to the FLSA). Consequently, the definition section
of Chapter 8 applies equally to the FLSA and the EPA.
Holliday v. WSIE 88.7 FM Radio Station, No.
04-CV-0237-MJR, 2005 WL 3312633, at *5 (S.D. Ill.Dec. 7,
2005) (“The EPA is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), and necessarily shares the definition
of employer contained within FLSA.”).
term “employer, ” as it is used in the FLSA and
the EPA, is defined broadly: “As used in this chapter .
. . ‘Employer' includes any person acting directly
or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to
an employee . . . .” 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). It
appears that the Tenth Circuit has not interpreted this
definition of “employer” within the context of an
EPA claim. But it has interpreted this term in FLSA cases,
noting that “[i]n determining what is an employer under
the [FLSA] we are not limited to the common-law definition of
such a relationship. The [FLSA] contains its own definitions
of employer . . . .” Mitchell v. Hertzke, 234
F.2d 183, 189 (10th Cir. 1956). This definition of employer
is, “comprehensive enough to require its application to
many persons and working relationships, which prior to this
Act, were not deemed to fall within an employer-employee
category.” Hodgson v. Okada, 472 F.2d 965, 968
(10th Cir. 1973) (quoting Walling v. Portland Terminal
Co., 330 U.S. 148, 150-51 (1947)).
case, Shafer alleges that Young, and Moss were responsible
for determining her pay and decided to pay her less than male
employees with substantially similar job duties. Young and
Moss were, therefore, employers within the meaning of the EPA
because they were “acting directly or indirectly in the
interest of an employer [YAG] in relation to an
employee.” See 29 U.S.C. § 203(d);
Hodgson, 472 F.2d at 968-69 (holding that
individuals who had the authority to direct and fire
employees were employers under the FLSA).