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Daniel Castellino v. M.I. Friday

June 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Nora Barry Fischer


I. Introduction

This matter comes before the Court on a motion for summary judgment filed by the Plaintiff. (Docket No. 34). For the reasons that follow, that motion will be denied.

II. Background

M.I. Friday, Inc. ("M.I. Friday"), performs masonry construction work and related services at various commercial, industrial and residential sites. (Docket Nos. 36 & 38 at ¶ 3). Most of the sites are located in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland or New York. (Id. at ¶ 4). M.I. Friday's "annual gross volume of sales made or business done" exceeds $500,000.00.*fn1 (Id. at ¶ 2).

Mark I. Friday ("Friday") is the sole owner and President of M.I. Friday. (Id. at ¶¶ 1, 5). His responsibilities include the operational management of projects performed by M.I. Friday. (Id. at ¶ 6). Friday is responsible for hiring and firing M.I. Friday's employees. (Id. at ¶ 7). He also establishes the wage rate paid to each employee. (Id. at ¶ 8).

M.I. Friday's organizational hierarchy includes project managers who report directly to Friday. (Id. at ¶ 14). Foremen typically report to a project manager and supervise the work performed by laborers. (Id. at ¶¶ 15, 21). Project managers have the authority to direct the work performed by foremen and their subordinates at M.I. Friday's work sites. (Id. at ¶ 16).

Daniel Castellino ("Castellino"), a bricklayer, started working for M.I. Friday during the summer of 2005. (Id. at ¶¶ 10, 13). He was hired to work as a foreman. (Id. at ¶ 12). Gino Virgilli ("Virgilli") worked as one of M.I. Friday's project managers. (Id. at ¶ 17). In that capacity, Virgilli generated a "Masonry Foreman's Guide." (Id. at ¶ 18). The Masonry Foreman's Guide instructed all foremen to engage in proper planning for their respective work assignments. (Id. at ¶ 19). Castellino was placed under Virgilli's supervision shortly after being assigned to the "Providence Point" job site in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Id. at ¶ 20). As a foreman, Castellino was required to prepare the work schedules for individuals under his authority. (Id. at ¶ 27).

M.I. Friday expected its laborers to arrive at their work sites thirty minutes before their scheduled start times. (Id. at ¶ 22). Foremen were required to complete timesheets detailing the hours worked by laborers under their supervision. (Id. at ¶ 23). The timesheets were submitted to M.I. Friday's payroll clerk. (Id. at ¶ 24). M.I. Friday utilized the timesheets to determine the number of hours worked by its hourly employees. (Id. at ¶ 25).

During the course of his employment with M.I. Friday, Castellino submitted timesheets on his own behalf. (Id. at ¶ 33). When he first started, his timesheets accurately reflected the time that he had worked on a given workday. (Id.). Castellino was later instructed not to record more than eight hours of work for a single weekday. (Id.). After receiving this instruction, Castellino recorded eight hours of work on his timesheets for days on which he had worked extra hours. (Id. at ¶ 34). He received overtime pay only for hours worked on Saturdays and Sundays. (Id.). Castellino's employment with M.I. Friday ended in 2010. (Docket No. 37-2 at 6).

Castellino commenced this action against M.I. Friday on February 25, 2011, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA") [29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.]. (Docket No. 1). On September 9, 2011, Castellino filed an amended complaint and named Friday as an additional defendant.*fn2 (Docket No. 19). Castellino filed a motion for summary judgment on March 27, 2012, contending that M.I. Friday and Friday were liable under the FLSA as a matter of law for failing to compensate him for the overtime hours that he had worked on weekdays. (Docket No. 34). That motion is the subject of this memorandum opinion.

III. Standard of Review

Summary judgment may only be granted where the moving party shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and that a judgment as a matter of law is warranted. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court must enter summary judgment against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to his or her case, and on which he or she will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). In evaluating the evidence, the Court must interpret the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in his or her favor. Watson v. Abington Township, 478 F.3d 144, 147 (3d Cir. 2007). The burden is initially on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence contained in the record does not create a genuine issue of material fact. Conoshenti v. Public Service Electric & Gas Co., 364 F.3d 135, 140 (3d Cir. 2004). A dispute is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable trier of fact could render a finding in favor of the nonmoving party. McGreevy v. Stroup, 413 F.3d 359, 363 (3d Cir. 2005). Where the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may meet its burden by showing that the admissible evidence contained in the record would be insufficient to carry the nonmoving party's burden of proof. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322. Once the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, who must go beyond his or her pleadings and designate specific facts by the use of affidavits, depositions, admissions or answers to interrogatories showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Id. at 324. The nonmoving party cannot defeat a well-supported motion for summary judgment by simply reasserting unsupported factual allegations contained in his or her pleadings. Williams v. Borough of West Chester, 891 F.2d 458, 460 (3d Cir. 1989).

IV. Discussion

The FLSA was enacted in order to "protect all covered workers from substandard wages and oppressive working hours." Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight System, Inc., 450 U.S. 728, 739, 101 S.Ct. 1437, 67 L.Ed.2d 641 (1981). The "maximum hours" provision of the FLSA, which is codified at 29 U.S.C. § 207(a), provides that "no employer shall employ any of his employees who in any workweek is engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or is employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, for a workweek longer than forty hours unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed." 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). Violations of this provision can be redressed in a civil action brought in a federal or state court of competent jurisdiction. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Castellino alleges that M.I. Friday violated § 207(a) by failing to compensate him for work that he performed in excess of forty hours during the course of several workweeks. (Docket No. 19 at ¶¶ 11-18).

A. Individual Liability Under the FLSA

The FLSA defines the term "employer" broadly enough to include "any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee . . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). The term "person" is defined as "an individual, partnership, association, corporation, business trust, legal representative, or any organized group of persons." 29 U.S.C. § 203(a)(emphasis added). Given the broad reach of these definitions, the provisions of the FLSA extending liability for unpaid wages to "employers" have been construed to impose liability upon individuals as well as entities. 29 U.S.C. § 216(b); Hewett v. Willingboro Board of Education, 421 F.Supp.2d 814, 817, n. 4 (D.N.J. 2006); Kilvitis v. County of Luzerne, 52 F.Supp.2d 403, 412-414 (M.D.Pa. 1999). An individual who meets the FLSA's definition of the term "employer" is jointly and severally liable for any unpaid wages owed by the employing entity itself. Dole v. Haulaway, Inc., 723 F.Supp. 274, 286-287 (D.N.J. 1989). In determining whether an individual is an "employer" subject to the provisions of the FLSA, a court must consider whether the individual has the power to hire and fire the aggrieved employee, whether he or she supervises or controls the employee's work schedule and conditions of employment, whether he or she determines the rate and method of the employee's compensation, and whether he or she maintains the employee's employment records. Haybarger v. Lawrence County Adult Probation & Parole, 667 F.3d 408, 418 (3d Cir. 2012). An individual's status as an "employer" depends upon the "totality of the circumstances," and no single factor is alone dispositive of the issue. Id.

It is undisputed that Friday is the sole owner and President of M.I. Friday. (Docket Nos. 36 & 38 at ¶¶ 1, 5). During a deposition, Friday testified that he was directly involved in M.I. Friday's day-to-day operations, that he had the authority to hire and fire M.I. Friday's employees, and that he was responsible for determining the employees' rates and methods of compensation. (Docket No. 37-1 at 6-7). He acknowledged that he had personally hired Castellino. (Id. at 7). Under these circumstances, it cannot be doubted that Friday qualifies as an "employer" within the meaning of the FLSA, and that he is personally liable for any unpaid wages owed to Castellino by M.I. Friday. Donovan v. Grim Hotel Co., 7 ...

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