United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
LARRY CARTER, LESLIE DAVIS, THE ESTATE OF TIFFANY CAPERS-ALLEN BY SHAWN ALLEN, ADMINISTRATOR, SHARON AGBEDE, TIARA COUNCIL, CATHERINE MACKEY-GAITHER, GREGORY GARNER, JENNIFER JUBILEE, ROCHELLE MORRIS, and KIMBERLY RODRIQUEZ, Plaintiffs,
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Fair Labor Standards Act case is presently before this Court
on motion of the Plaintiffs for the entry of summary judgment
in their favor. For the reasons outlined below, the Motion
shall be granted.
are a group of some ten individuals who are and have for the
past three or more years been employed by the City of
Philadelphia's Department of Behavioral Health
(“DBH”) in the Division of Mental
Health/Disability Services' (“MHDS”) Acute
Services Unit as “Mental Health Emergency Service
Coordinators 2.” Specifically, in their positions,
Plaintiffs provide 24hour, 7-day-a-week coverage of three
mental health crisis telephone lines - a mental health
“delegate” line, a local suicide line and a
national suicide line. To accomplish this objective,
Plaintiffs are required to work 8.5 hour shifts - either a
day shift starting anywhere from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and
ending anytime between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., or a night shift
commencing anytime from 4:30 p.m. and ending at 1
addition to these regular workweek shifts, Plaintiffs are
required to work the “standby” overnight and/or
weekend and holiday shifts which are some 7 hours in length
three times per week. The standby shifts are scheduled on a
rotating basis with the schedule being set on a monthly
basis. Plaintiffs may trade their shifts with one another but
unless they can find a volunteer to take a shift which they
want to give away or trade, they must work their assigned
shifts. While Plaintiffs work their regularly-scheduled day
or night shifts at the Acute Services Unit's office
location at 801 Market Street in Philadelphia, they are
required to work their standby shifts from their homes.
Plaintiffs are paid their regular hourly rate of
approximately $31 for their regular, assigned day or evening
shifts and some $21 per hour for their standby
shifts. There is no difference at all between
their job duties on the standby shifts and their regular
day or night shifts; the only distinction is that they are
required to work the standby shifts from their homes.
working their standby shifts from home, Plaintiffs must
answer incoming calls within three rings and while they can
use a Bluetooth or similar headset, they cannot move too far
from the phone's base or the calls will drop off.
Plaintiffs therefore all have a dedicated area within their
homes for working their standby shifts. Regardless of whether
they have worked an overnight standby shift until 7:30 a.m.,
day-shift Plaintiffs are required to report to work their
regularly-assigned shift the following day at the usual time.
For those plaintiffs who work day shift and are scheduled to
report at 7:30 or 8 a.m., they have the option of using their
vacation or compensatory leave time or of working their
required eight-hours from the time they arrive to work
i.e., they may choose to add the time which they
missed by arriving late in the morning onto the end of their
October 12, 2018, Plaintiffs commenced this action alleging
that Defendant willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards
Act, 29 U.S.C. Section 201, et. seq. by
intentionally failing and refusing to pay them all of the
compensation due under the Act. See, 29 U.S.C.
§207(a)(1). Plaintiffs seek to recover, inter
alia, liquidated damages, pre- and post-judgment
interest, other monetary damages, reasonable attorneys'
fees and expenses and their costs in filing and pursuing this
action under 29 U.S.C. §216. Discovery in this action
has now closed and, on July 15, 2019, Defendant City of
Philadelphia moved for summary judgment on the grounds that
Plaintiffs' claim fails because they meet two exemptions
to the overtime compensation provisions of the FLSA.
Specifically, the City asserted that the Plaintiffs'
positions fall under the administrative and the learned
professional exemptions and that they therefore are
not entitled to overtime compensation. Plaintiffs
opposed the motion and in further response, filed the motion
for summary judgment which is now before us. Insofar as we
denied Defendant's motion on September 26, 2019, the
Plaintiff's motion is the sole matter presently pending
before the Court.
long been the rule that any party may move for summary
judgment on any claim or defense or any part of a claim or
defense and that judgment is appropriately entered “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). “As to
materiality, … [o]nly disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment…;
[f]actual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will
not be counted.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). “A genuine dispute exits ‘if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.'” In re
Tribune Media Co., 902 F.3d 384, 392 (3d Cir. 2018)
(quoting Anderson, supra.); Stone v.
Troy Construction, LLC, 935 F.3d 141 (3d Cir. 2019).
a “judge's function” in evaluating a motion
for summary judgment is not “to weigh the evidence and
determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether
there is a genuine issue for trial.” Salazar-Limon
v. City of Houston, 137 S.Ct. 1277, 1280 (2017) (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249). “In so doing, the
court must ‘view the facts and draw reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing
the motion.'” Id, (quoting Scott v.
Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d
686 (2007) and United States v. Diebold, 369 U.S.
654, 655, 82 S.Ct. 993, 8 L.Ed.2d 176 (1962)). Thus, in order
to survive summary judgment, an opposing party must show that
“there is sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving
party for a jury to return a verdict for that party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249.
noted, Plaintiffs brought this action for Defendant's
alleged violation of the overtime provision of Section 7 of
the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §207, subsection
(a) of which reads as follows in pertinent part:
(a) Employees engaged in interstate commerce;
additional applicability to employees pursuant to subsequent
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this
section, 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.
notwithstanding this general rule and as Defendant correctly
asserts, there are a number of “exemptions” to
and from the overtime requirements set forth in the Act.
Generally speaking, “[w]hen an employee brings a claim
under the FLSA, he ordinarily bears ‘the burden of
proving that he performed work for which he was not properly
compensated.'” Rosano v. Township of
Teaneck, 754 F.3d 177, 188 (3d Cir. 2014).
“Because the FLSA gives no ‘textual
indication' that its exemptions should be construed
narrowly, ” the Supreme Court recently held that
“there is no reason to give them anything other than a
fair … interpretation, ” one that is
“neither narrow nor broad.” Encino Motorcars,
LLC v. Navarro, 138 S.Ct. 1134, 1142, 200 L.Ed.2d 433,
442 (2018); Secretary United States Department of Labor
v. Bristol Excavating, Inc., 935 F.3d 122, 135 (3d Cir.
2019). The question whether an employee is exempt is a mixed
question of law and fact. Pignataro v. Port Authority of
New York and New Jersey, 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir.
2010); Levitt v. Technical Education Services, Civ.
A. No. 10-CV-6823, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111195, *9 (E.D. Pa.
Aug. 7, 2012). The burden of proving these exemptions is upon
the employer, and if the record is unclear as to some
exemption requirement, the employer will be held not to have
satisfied its burden. Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Inc. v.
Wirtz, 383 U.S. 190, 206, 86 S.Ct. 737, 15 L.Ed.2d 694
(1966); Friedrich v. U.S. Computer Services, 974
F.2d 409, 412 (3d Cir. 1992); Martin v. Cooper Electric
Supply Co., 940 F.2d 896, 900 (3d Cir. 1991);
Southerton v. Borough of Honesdale, No.
3:17-CV-0165, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189493 at *25 (M.D. Pa.
Nov. 6, 2018).
determining the employer's burden of proof, the
Department of Labor Regulations are given “considerable
and in some cases decisive weight.” Brooks v.
Village of Ridgefield Park, 185 F.3d 130, 138, n.7 (3d
Cir. 1999) (quoting Skidmore v. Swift, 323 U.S. 134,
140, 65 S.Ct. 161, 89 L.Ed.2d 124 (1944)). In this case, the
Defendant city is invoking the so-called “learned
professional” and “administrative”
exemptions both of which require that the employee be
“[c]ompensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of
not less than $455 per week, … exclusive of board,
lodging or other facilities.” See, 29 C.F.R.
§§ 541.200(a)(1), 541.300(a)(1). Given that the
parties here agree that Plaintiffs meet this primary
threshold for both exemptions, this Court need not analyze
this element any further. Instead, we turn now to more
closely scrutinize the other requirements of each of the
“bona fide executive, administrative or professional
capacity” exemption is outlined in 29 U.S.C.
§213(a)(1), which states:
(a) Minimum wage and maximum hour
requirements. The provisions of sections 6 (except
section 6(d) in the case of paragraph (1) of this subsection)
and 7 [29 U.S.C. §§206, 207] shall not apply with
respect to -
(1) Any employee employed in a bona fide
executive, administrative, or professional capacity
(including any employee employed in the capacity of academic
administrative personnel or teacher in elementary or
secondary schools), or in the capacity of outside salesman
(as such terms are defined and delimited from time to time by
regulations of the Secretary, subject to the provisions of
the Administrative Procedure Act [5 U.S.C. §551 et.
seq.] except that an employee of a retail or service
establishment shall not be excluded from the definition of
employee employed in a bona fide executive or administrative
capacity because of the number of hours in his workweek which
he devotes to activities not directly or closely related to
the performance of executive or administrative activities, if
less than 40 per centum of his hours worked in the workweek
are devoted to such activities;
explanation of this exemption is offered in the Code of
Federal Regulations. 29 C.F.R. §541.200 sets forth the
general rule for administrative employees. Under subsection
the term “employee employed in a bona fide
administrative capacity” in section 13(a)(1) is said to
mean “any employee:
(1) Compensated on a salary or fee basis pursuant to
§541.600 at a rate per week of not less than the
40thpercentile of weekly earnings of full-time
non-hourly workers in the lowest-wage Census Region …,
exclusive of board, lodging or other facilities…
(2) Whose primary duty is the performance of office or
non-manual work directly related to the management or general
business operations of the employer or the employer's
(3) Whose primary duty includes the exercise of discretion
and independent judgment with respect to matters ...