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Stanley J. Hanczyc, Jr. v. Valley Distributing and Storage Company

September 7, 2012

STANLEY J. HANCZYC, JR. PLAINTIFF,
v.
VALLEY DISTRIBUTING AND STORAGE COMPANY, INC., CONRAD KOTLOWSKI, AND CAROL KEUP, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Carol Keup ("Keup"), Conrad Kotlowski "(Kotlowski"), and Valley Distributing and Storage Company, Inc. ("Valley") (collectively "Defendants") (Doc. 25) and the Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Plaintiff Stanley J. Hanczyc ("Hanczyc"). (Doc. 33.) Hanczyc claims that Valley violated his rights protected under various state and federal statutes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act during his employment with Valley. Defendants have moved for summary judgment on all claims, and Plaintiff has filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment. Because genuine issues of material fact exist with respect to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act claims, summary judgment will be denied as to these claims. However, because the record demonstrates that Hanczyc was not compensated when he worked in excess of forty hours while he was a "non-exempt" Valley employee from December 2007 until November 2008, his motion for summary judgment as to liability on the Fair Labor Standards Act and Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act claims will be granted.

I. Background*fn1

Valley is a third-party logistics warehouse for other customers. (Defs.' Statement Material Facts, "Defs.' SMF", ¶ 1.) Valley receives, picks orders, and ships orders for other customers. (Id.) Valley has nine (9) warehouses between Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and West Pittston. (Id. at ¶ 2.)

Hanczyc was hired by Valley in August 2006 as a Warehouse Manager in building number one. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Hanczyc had a number of responsibilities as manager, including ensuring that orders were timely completed, that all inbound and outbound shipments were accurate, and that customers were satisfied with Valley's services. (Id. at ¶ 4.)

When Hanczyc was first hired by Valley, he reported directly to Keup and Kotlowski. (Id. at ¶ 8.) During all relevant times to this action, Kotlowski was Valley's General Manager, Keup was Valley's Chief Operating Officer, and Karen Haller ("Haller") was Valley's Vice-President of Finance. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10, 14.) As General Manager, Kotlowski was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day functions of the warehouses. (Id. at ¶ 11.) As such, Kotlowski supervised the building and warehouse managers. (Id. at ¶ 12.)

On October 31, 2007, Hanczyc had open heart surgery. (Id. at ¶ 21.) Hanczyc was in the hospital for three days following his surgery. (Id.) On November 31, 2007, Hanczyc's family doctor, Maer Biscotti, M.D., advised Plaintiff that he would be able to return to work on light duty on December 17, 2007 and to full duty on January 17, 2008. (Hanczyc Dep., Ex. 1.) Hanczyc returned to work at Valley on or about December 17, 2007. (Defs.' SMF,¶ 22; Pl.'s Counter-Statement of Facts, "Pl.'s CSF", ¶ 22.) Thereafter, during 2008, Hanczyc received multiple notes from his physician documenting his hour and lifting restrictions. (Defs.' SMF, ¶¶ 23-27.) Hanczyc asserts that Defendants repeatedly instructed him to return to his physician to get documentation permitting an increase in his hours, and Defendants also demanded a new physician's note every month. (Hanczyc Dep., 69:22-70:12.) While Plaintiff's physician wrote prescriptions to limit his daily and weekly working hours during 2008, Hanczyc regularly worked in excess of those hours. (Defs.' SMF, ¶¶ 24-27; Pl.'s CSF, ¶ 23.) Although Defendants assert that Hanczyc was repeatedly counseled and issued disciplinary warnings for unilaterally failing to heed the work restrictions set by his physician, (Defs.' SMF, ¶¶ 34-36), Hanczyc contends that he never received any such disciplinary warnings and that Defendants repeatedly demanded that he work in excess of his hour restrictions. (Pl.'s SMF, ¶ 34.)

In September 2008, Hanczyc was involved in an altercation or conflict with another Valley employee. (Defs.' SMF, ¶ 33.) Plaintiff was suspended for one day as a result of this altercation, (Hanczyc Dep., 96:7), while the other employee received a written warning for using "foul language which precipitated [the] confrontation." (Doc. 52.) And, on October 27, 2008, Hanczyc had a meeting with Keup, Haller, and Lisa Natt to discuss Plaintiff's "repeat issues with management peers that resulted in complaints." (Doc. 54.)

When Valley first hired Hanczyc, he was a salaried employee. (Defs.' SMF, ¶ 38.) Eventually, however, Hanczyc became an hourly employee. (Hanczyc Dep., 34:16-22; Keup Dep., 20:4-6.) Hanczyc asserts that he became an hourly employee in December 2007, (Hanczyc Dep., 34:16-22), while Keup contends that Hanczyc remained a salaried employee until November 2008. (Keup Dep., 22.) Valley's corporate designee testified that Hanczyc was a salaried employee before his surgery but after he returned from leave he was paid hourly. (Haller Dep., 31:14-17.) Valley also testified:

Question [Plaintiff's Counsel]: But after his surgery, when he became an hourly employee, you testified that Valley paid him his hourly rate up to the 40th hour, but then did not pay for him for any hours worked over 40; is that correct?

Answer [Karen Haller]: Correct. (Id. at 31:24-32:5.)

On April 2, 2009, Keup forwarded a letter to various Valley employees, including Hanczyc, "to improve the overall efficiency of Building 1, your personal work performance, and your interaction with various other functions and colleagues of Valley Distributing." (Hanczyc Dep., Ex. 6.) In conjunction with this letter, Hanczyc met with Keup to discuss his work performance. (Defs.' SMF, ¶ 45.) And, on August 10, 2009, Plaintiff attended a meeting with Keup and Haller regarding his job performance. (Id. at ¶ 46.) Hanczyc alleges that the meeting occurred as an attempt to persuade him to drop a pending charge he filed against Valley with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Pl.'s CSF, ¶ 46.) During the August 10, 2009 meeting, Hanczyc was told that he was responsible for losing important Valley customers. (Id. at ¶ 47.)

Ultimately, Hanczyc was terminated from his employment with Valley in August 2009 because of performance issues related to customer complaints, his customer service level, and his interactions with other Valley employees. (Defs.' SMF, ¶¶ 48-51.) Hanczyc disputes these proffered reasons for his termination. Instead, he contends that his work performance was exemplary during the course of his employment with Valley. (Pl.'s, ¶¶ 48-51.)

As a result of the foregoing events, Hanczyc commenced this action on November 18, 2010 alleging nine (9) different causes of action. (Compl.) On May 9, 2011, Plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count VIII) and negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count IX) claims were dismissed. (Doc. 12.) As such, the parties proceeded to discovery on the following claims: Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., failure to provide reasonable accommodation against Valley (Count I); ADA retaliation against Valley (Count II); Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 951, et seq., against all Defendants (Count III); Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2601, et seq., interference against all Defendants (Count IV); FMLA retaliation against all Defendants (Count V); Fair Labor Standards Acts ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq., against all Defendants (Count VI); and Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act ("PMWA"), 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 333.101, et seq., against all Defendants (Count VII).

At the close of discovery, the parties filed the instant motions for summary judgment. Defendants seek summary judgment on all claims, while Plaintiff requests summary judgment as to Counts I, III, IV, VI, and VII. As the motions have now been fully briefed, they are ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment shall be granted "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). "Summary judgment is appropriate when 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Wright v. Corning, 679 F.3d 101, 103 (3d Cir. 2012) (quoting Orsatti v. N.J. State Police, 71 F.3d 480, 482 (3d Cir. 1995)). A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the suit under the applicable substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986).

Where there is no material fact in dispute, the moving party need only establish that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). Where, however, there is a disputed issue of material fact, summary judgment is appropriate only if the factual dispute is not a genuine one. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. An issue of material fact is genuine if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Id. Where there is a material fact in dispute, the moving party has the initial burden of proving that: (1) there is no genuine issue of material fact; and (2) the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See 2D Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2727 (2d ed.1983). The moving party may present its own evidence or, where the nonmoving party has the burden of proof, simply point out to the court that "the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of her case." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986).

"When considering whether there exist genuine issues of material fact, the court is required to examine the evidence of record in the light most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment, and resolve all reasonable inferences in that party's favor." Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). Once the moving party has satisfied its initial burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to either present affirmative evidence supporting its version of the material facts or to refute the moving party's contention that the facts entitle it to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256--57. The Court need not accept mere conclusory allegations, whether they are made in the complaint or a sworn statement. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888, 110 S. Ct. 3177, 111 L. Ed. 2d 695 (1990). "To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the non-moving party must show specific facts such that a reasonable jury could find in that party's favor, thereby establishing a genuine issue of fact for trial." Galli v. New Jersey Meadowlands Comm'n, 490 F.3d 265, 270 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). "While the evidence that the non-moving party presents may be either direct or circumstantial, and need not be as great as a preponderance, the evidence must be more than a scintilla." Id. (quoting Hugh v. Butler County Family YMCA, 418 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 2005)). In deciding a motion for summary judgment, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.

B. The ADA/PHRA Claims

The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., seeks " to provide clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing discrimination against individuals with disabilities." 42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(1). The ADA was passed pursuant to a number of congressional findings, including that " physical or mental disabilities in no way diminish a person's right to fully participate in all aspects of society, yet many people with physical or mental disabilities have been precluded from doing so because of discrimination," and that "discrimination against individuals with disabilities persists in such critical areas as employment, . . ." Id. at § 12101(a)(1), (3). Hanczyc asserts that Valley discriminated against him in violation ...


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