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CARYK v. GEORGE A. COUPE

February 27, 1987

Michael Caryk, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
George A. Coupe, et al., Defendants


June L. Green, U.S.D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

This action is brought by 10 chauffeurs formerly with Admiral Limousine Service ("Admiral") to recover past-due wages and overtime compensation for the years 1981-1984, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. (1982), and the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Act ("D.C. Minimum Wage Act"), 36 D.C. Code §§ 201 et seq. (1981). A trial to the Court was followed by extensive post-trial briefing.

 I. Findings of Fact

 Defendants George A. Coupe and Bernard Resnick, at all material times herein, have done business as Admiral Limousine Service, a partnership providing chauffeur-driven limousines to the public and government for hire. Transcript ("Tr.") at 665-66. Admiral maintains an office and garage at 1243 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C., and a bookkeeping office in Alexandria, Virginia. Admiral is an employer involved in interstate commerce. Tr. at 646-47.

 The majority of Admiral's work involves servicing the business needs of clients from Monday through Friday, with most jobs beginning between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Most jobs were arranged and assigned to chauffeurs at least one day in advance. Tr. at 232, 508, 604, 655-59, 666-67.

 Each chauffeur was expected to arrive at work in uniform. He would report to the dispatcher who then assigned him a vehicle. Tr. at 138, 384. It then became the responsibility of the chauffeur to make sure his assigned vehicle was clean, fueled, and in satisfactory mechanical order. Tr. at 138, 184. The chauffeur would then remain on call until given a driving assignment. Tr. at 141.

 Upon completion of a driving assignment, the driver would either return to the office or call in to the office with the necessary billing information. Tr. at 657. Admiral did not normally require its chauffeurs to keep or turn in job slips, which record the name of the customer and the various stops made. Tr. at 267, 773-74.

 Chauffeurs were compensated for driving in several ways. For most assignments, chauffeurs were paid one-third of the average customer charge. There was a three-hour minimum for most driving assignments, and chauffeurs would receive one-third of the three-hour minimum charge even though their actual work time was less than three hours. Tr. at 674-78. For trips to area airports, chauffeurs were paid a flat fee: $ 10.00 to National Airport, $ 20.00 to Dulles Airport, and $ 23.33 to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Tr. at 678. For out-of-town trips, chauffeurs received one-third of a dollar per mile. Id. At most times pertinent hereto, chauffeurs earned between $ 7.50 and $ 20.00 per hour of driving. Id.

 During all times material herein, there was a specific waiting time, or "guaranty" agreement between Admiral and its employees. A chauffeur had the option to be paid, and Admiral agreed to compensate him, for time spent at Admiral's office waiting to be dispatched if certain conditions were met by the chauffeur. The terms of the agreement were posted on an information sheet in the chauffeurs' lounge as follows:

 
Guaranty is $ 30.00 for an 8 hour day and covers the time from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Guaranty is secured for any jobs totalling under $ 30.00 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Guaranty is secured for any job that begins at 5:01 p.m. or after. You must be on time to collect the guaranty.

 Defendants' Exhibit 4; Tr. at 683.

 The guaranty agreement was available Monday through Friday. The chauffeurs understood that they were not entitled to be paid for waiting past 5:00 p.m., and that the guaranty was not available on the weekend except by special arrangement. The guaranteed wage was $ 20.00 until September 1981, when it was raised to $ 30.00. Tr. at 164-67, 177, 183, 210-11, 230, 294-95, 578, 678.

 While it is apparent that Admiral maintained this waiting time arrangement so as to ensure the ready availability of chauffeurs to meet the unpredictable number of calls for service it received, most of the jobs were assigned the day before by telephone, by the two-way car radio, in person, or if the client assignment continued. Tr. at 667, 784. Such being the case, most of Admiral's chauffeurs did not participate in the waiting time arrangement.


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