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Dennis Pieretti v. Dent Enterprises

February 26, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bartle, J.


Plaintiff Dennis Pieretti has sued Dent Enterprises, Inc. ("Dent") for violation of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act ("PMWA"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 333.104(c), and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 260.1. He has also presented a claim for breach of contract. All three claims arise out of Pieretti's employment with Dent as a Quality Assurance Manager ("QAM"). Before the court is Dent's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 254 (1986). After reviewing the evidence, the court makes all reasonable inferences from the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant. In re Flat Glass Antitrust Litig., 385 F.3d 350, 357 (3d Cir. 2004). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, we may only rely on admissible evidence. See, e.g., Blackburn v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 179 F.3d 81, 95 (3d Cir. 1999).

Pieretti alleges that pursuant to the PMWA he was entitled to be paid time and one-half of his regular rate for hours worked over 40 hours in a given workweek. He also contends that aside from any statutory requirement, Dent was contractually obligated to pay him at that level. According to Dent, summary judgment should be granted because plaintiff's position in the company qualified for the PMWA's administrative exemption and thus he was not entitled to additional compensation for overtime hours worked. Dent further argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on the WPCL and breach of contract claims because Pieretti failed to produce evidence that Dent contracted to compensate him for working in excess of 40 hours per week.

The following facts are not in dispute. Dent is an exterior services management ("ESM") company headquartered in DeWitt, Michigan, that provides ESM services to companies across the nation by contracting with subcontractors, known as contract partners ("CPs"), to perform services, such as landscaping and snow removal, for Dent's clients. Pieretti was employed by Dent as a QAM from on or around February 16, 2004 to September 8, 2010. On or around February 3, 2004, Dent's former Human Resources Director sent a letter to Pieretti offering him the "At-Will salary exempt position" of QAM at Dent. Pieretti signed the letter. Pieretti received an annual salary equivalent to more than $250 per week. No Dent employee ever indicated to Pieretti that he would be paid overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 in a given week.

During the course of his employment with Dent, Pieretti performed the majority of his job duties at the premises of Dent's clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Maryland. When not on site, Pieretti worked from home. Pieretti's job as a QAM consisted of the following duties: identifying CPs who were able to provide the required services for Dent's customers, recommending the CPs he identified to his superiors in Michigan, ensuring that new Dent customers returned the appropriate contractual paperwork to Dent headquarters, performing site inspections at the premises of Dent's customers to assess the CPs' work performance, answering telephone calls from Dent's customers regarding the services for which they had contracted, documenting findings and conclusions from each site inspection in post-inspection reports, communicating deficiencies in the CPs' work to the CPs directly, and, in the case of deficient work, putting a corrective action plan into place and/or recommending to management that the CP be terminated or reprimanded. Pieretti also occasionally performed some manual tasks such as pulling weeds, trimming tree growth, and moving items to access storage sheds while conducting site inspections.

Pieretti did not have a pre-set weekly schedule. Instead, he set his own schedule based on the duties he was required to undertake.

We turn first to Pieretti's PMWA claim. The overtime provision of the PMWA requires employers to compensate certain employees for "overtime not less than one and one-half times the employee's regular rate" of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a given workweek. 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 333.104(c). The PMWA contains exemptions to the overtime pay requirement, including an exemption for employees working in a "bona fide... administrative... capacity." 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 333.105(a)(5). The regulations of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, which implement the PMWA, define "employment in a bona fide administrative capacity" as work by an individual:

(1) Whose primary duty consists of the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to management policies or general operation of his employer or the customers of the employer.

(2) Who customarily and regularly exercises discretion and independent judgment.

(3) Who regularly and directly assists an employer or an employee employed in a bona fide executive or administrative capacity, who performs under only general supervision work along with specialized or technical lines requiring special training, experience, or knowledge, or who executes under only general supervision special assignments and tasks.

(4) Who does not devote more than 20% of time worked in a workweek, or, in the case of an employee of a retail or service establishment, who does not devote more than 40% of time worked in the workweek to activities which are not directly and closely related to the performance of the work described in paragraphs (1) -- (3).

(5) Who is paid for his services a salary of not less than $155 per week, exclusive of board, lodging, or other facilities, provided that an employee who is compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $250 per week, exclusive of board, lodging, or other facilities, whose primary duty consists of the performance of work described in paragraph (1), which includes work requiring the exercise ...

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