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Thong v. Salon

January 18, 2008

JENNIFER THONG PLAINTIFF,
v.
ANDRE CHREKY SALON, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff's Motion [24] to Compel the Production of Documents. Upon consideration of the plaintiff's motion, the defendants' opposition [25] thereto, the plaintiff's reply [26] brief, the applicable law, and the entire record herein, the Court concludes that the plaintiff's Motion to Compel will be GRANTED. The Court's reasoning is set forth below.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Jennifer Thong, comes before this Court seeking to compel discovery from defendants Andre Chreky ("Mr. Chreky"), Andre Chreky Salon (the "Salon"), and SPAC, L.L.C. ("SPAC") (collectively, "Defendants"), on a number of matters. Plaintiff is a former employee of the Salon. In her underlying suit before the Court, plaintiff alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1963 ("FLSA"), the D.C. Wage and Hour Act ("WHA"), the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Act ("WPCA"), and the D.C. Human Rights Act ("DCHRA"), for unlawful assault, battery and conversion, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Specifically, plaintiff claims that defendants did not compensate her for all hours worked and did not pay her overtime rates for hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. Plaintiff further alleges that Mr. Chreky and the Salon subjected plaintiff to unwanted sexual comments, touches, and physical attacks. In addition, plaintiff alleges that Mr. Chreky and the Salon confiscated and retained money that plaintiff earned in tips.

By order of the Court, discovery in this action is set to close on January 23, 2008. Plaintiff filed her Motion to Compel on January 2, 2008, seeking an order requiring defendants to produce the following documents: (1) all documents evidencing the number of hours worked by employees of the Salon, including, but not limited to, time cards, work schedules, and any reports or notes kept by supervisors or managers regarding the number of hours worked by employees of the Salon; (2) the verified transcript of the deposition of Mr. Chreky in the matter Commonwealth ex rel. Doudaklian v. Andre Chreky, in the Fairfax County Circuit Court, State of Virginia; (3) any and all credit card statements for the period 1998 to the present for all credit cards identified by defendants in response to plaintiff's Second Set of Interrogatories, Interrogatory No. 2; and (4) any and all documents relating or referring to defendants' telephone bills and statements for the period 1998 to the present. (See Pl.'s Mot. to Compel at 1--2.)

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

Trial courts have considerable discretion when handling discovery matters. Food Lion Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers Int'l Union, 103 F.3d 1007, 1012 (D.C. Cir. 1997) (citing Brune v. Internal Revenue Serv., 861 F.2d 1284, 1288 (D.C. Cir. 1988)). The scope of discovery in civil actions is broad, allowing for discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to a claim or defense. See FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). The term relevance at the discovery stage is broadly construed to include information which is not admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. See id. All discovery is subject, however, to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C). See id. Furthermore, discovery of matters not "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence" are not within the scope of discovery. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 352 (1978) (internal citation omitted).

Rule 34 allows any party to serve on any other party a request to produce for the inspection of the requesting party, any designated documents or electronically stored information stored in any medium from which information may be obtained within the scope of Rule 26(b), that are in the possession, custody, or control of the party upon whom the request was served. See FED. R. CIV. P. 34(a)(1)(A). An objection to part of a request must specify the part and permit inspection of the rest. See FED. R. CIV. P. 34(b)(2)(C).

Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a "[o]n notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery." FED. R. CIV. P. 37(a)(1).

B. Production Request No. 19

Plaintiff's Production Request No. 19 seeks all documents evidencing the number of hours actually worked by employees of the Salon, including, but not limited to time cards, work schedules, and notes or reports kept by supervisors or managers at the Salon. (See Pl.'s Mot. to Compel at 6.) Defendants object to the request on grounds that it is not limited in time and that it is duplicative, since defendants have previously produced all payroll records, which reflect hours worked for all employees. (See Pl.'s Mot. to Compel Ex. C at 5.)

Plaintiff claims that during the parties Local Rule 7(m) conference, plaintiff agreed to limit Request No. 19 to the period of 1998 to the present, and therefore defendants' first objection is moot. Defendants contend, however, that the three-year limitations period set by the FLSA renders Request No. 19 per se overly broad in scope of time notwithstanding plaintiff's revision. This Court finds that the request is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence related to matters other than the alleged FLSA violations, including plaintiff's claim that Mr. Chreky reduced plaintiff's work schedule as a form of punishment for resisting his alleged sexual advances. Accordingly, defendants' objection that Production Request No. 19 is overly broad in scope of time is overruled.

Defendants' second objection to the request fails for similar reasons. Defendants argue that since they have already provided plaintiff with all payroll records and time cards in their possession, further production is both unwarranted and impossible.*fn1 Defendants' objection ignores that given plaintiff's allegation that she was not paid for overtime labor, payroll records may not necessarily reflect hours that plaintiff actually worked. Clearly, that is why plaintiff's Production Request No. 19 seeks documents other than payroll records and time cards. This Court is satisfied that other forms of documentation, such as work schedules, calendars, and notes, are directly relevant to plaintiff's claims. Accordingly, this Court shall grant plaintiff's request to compel as to Production Request No. 19. To the extent that defendants have within their possession, custody or control documents-other than payroll records and time cards previously produced-evidencing hours worked, this Court ...


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