United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION RE DOCUMENT NOS.: 31, 32
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Erin Benton brought this action alleging that her former
employer, Defendant Laborers' Joint Training Fund
("the Fund"), failed to pay her overtime wages in
violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA")
and the D.C. Minimum Wage Revision Act ("DCMWRA").
The Court previously granted summary judgment to the Fund on
Ms. Benton's FLSA overtime claim (as well as her related
retaliation claim), after finding that Ms. Benton failed to
establish that the Fund is a covered enterprise under the
FLSA. See generally Benton v. Laborers' Joint
Training Fund, 121 F.Supp.3d 41 (D.D.C. 2015). The Court
permitted Ms. Benton "to seek leave to amend her
complaint to include a claim of individual coverage based on
interstate travel, " however, id. at 54, and
the Court granted Ms. Benton's subsequent motion to amend
to the extent it sought leave to add allegations of
individual FLSA coverage, see generally Benton v.
Laborers' Joint Training Fund, No. 14-1073, 2015 WL
7737304 (D.D.C. Dec. 1, 2015).
parties have again filed cross-motions for summary judgment.
The Fund moves for summary judgment on the FLSA claim,
arguing that Ms. Benton fails to establish individual FLSA
coverage and that, in any event, she is exempt from the
FLSA's overtime provisions because she worked in a bona
fide administrative position. See Def.'s Mot.
Summ. J., ECF No. 31; Def.'s Mem. Law Supp. Def.'s
Mot. Summ. J. at 12-21, ECF No. 31-1 (“Def.'s Mem.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J.”). Because it contends that summary
judgment should be entered in its favor on the FLSA claims,
the Fund argues that the Court should decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the DCMWRA claim or otherwise
grant summary judgment in its favor because the same
administrative exemption applies. See Def.'s
Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. at 21-22. For her part, Ms. Benton
seeks summary judgment on both claims, asserting that she is
owed $6, 194.34 in unpaid wages for hours that she worked
between June 25, 2011, and December 31, 2012, and that she
should be awarded an equal amount in liquidated damages under
the FLSA and DCMWRA. See Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. at
18, ECF No. 32; see generally Pl.'s Mem. Supp.
Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 32-1. Upon consideration of the
parties' motions, the memoranda in support thereof and
opposition thereto, and the summary judgment record, the
Court finds that genuine issues of fact exist regarding Ms.
Benton's coverage under the FLSA and, if she is covered,
whether she is exempt from the Act's overtime requirement
because of her position. Accordingly, the Court will deny
both parties' motions.
Fund is a non-profit 501(c)(5) organization “designed
to provide training to members of two labor unions in the
Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area: Laborers'
International Union of North America (‘LIUNA')
Local 657 and Local 11.” Def.'s Stmt. Material
Facts Not in Genuine Dispute ¶¶ 1, 4, ECF No. 31-2
(“Def.'s SOF”). The Fund provides labor
training on various subjects concerning the construction
industry, specifically, see Id. ¶ 8, and
“the purpose of the Training Fund is to provide unique
training to construction laborers who are members of LIUNA to
help them qualify for work and to get better work, ”
see Dep. Erin Benton at 18:13-18, ECF No. 31-4
(“Benton Dep.”). The organization is a
third-party recipient of contributions made pursuant to
collective bargaining agreements entered into between the
union and employers, and additional funding comes from
federal, local, and union grants. Def.'s SOF ¶¶
Benton was a full-time, salaried employee of the Fund from
January 1, 2003, until her termination on May 16, 2014.
Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Interrog. No. 7, ECF No. 32-5. At
times, and beginning after Shannon Jones became director of
the Fund in August 2007, Ms. Benton traveled to the
Fund's training location in Alexandria, Virginia from the
Fund's offices in Washington, D.C. to perform some of her
job duties. Benton Dep. at 114:8-12, 116:7-11, 117:17-118:2;
see Decl. Shannon Jones ¶ 2, ECF No. 31-11
(Jones Decl.). Ms. Benton testified that how often she
traveled there “depended on the schedule, ” but
that she was at the Virginia site on some occasions
“twice a week, ” and on others “four days a
week.” Benton Dep. at 116:9-11. The Fund “admits
that [Ms. Benton] did perform” what it characterizes as
“very limited work at the Fund's satellite office
in Virginia on occasion, ” but the Fund contends that
it lacks sufficient information to determine how often Ms.
Benton traveled to that office or whether she traveled from
the Fund's Washington office or Ms. Benton's home in
Maryland. Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. at 13, ECF No.
31-1. Indeed, an e-mail in April 2013 from Justin Meighan,
the chairman of the Fund's Board of Trustees, sought
“[c]onfirmation that [Ms. Benton] will work only out of
[the] Local 657 office, ” and requested that her cell
phone be cancelled since she would be working “at a
single site.” Def.'s Ex. 16, ECF No. 31-18. These
requests suggest that Ms. Benton did in fact work at other
locations on occasion.
number of occasions, Ms. Benton also traveled to and worked
at the Virginia training center during Saturday training
sessions put on by the Fund. See Progress Report,
ECF No. 31-32. At the Saturday trainings, she processed
classes and issued certificates and state licenses to
attendees. Benton Dep. at 267:13-15. She estimates
that, as a result, she worked 595.5 hours of overtime from
2008 through 2012. Pl.'s Suppl. Resp. Interrog. No. 15,
ECF No. 32-12. The Fund disputes the number of hours and
instances Ms. Benton claims that she worked on Saturdays, but
does not otherwise dispute that Ms. Benton made some Saturday
trips to the Virginia site. See Def.'s Resp.
Pl.'s Stmt. Material Facts Not in Dispute ¶ 16, ECF
No. 33-1. Ms. Benton testified that her travel to Virginia
ceased around April 26, 2013. See Benton Dep. at
parties dispute whether Ms. Benton had an official job title,
but she was at times referred to as an “Administrative
Assistant, ” Def.'s Ex. 12 at 6, ECF No. 31-14, and
at other times referred to as the “Office Manager,
” Def.'s Ex. 13, ECF No. 31-15, or the
“Assistant to [the] Director, ” Def.'s Ex.
15, ECF No. 31-17. When she was first hired, Ms. Benton's
responsibilities included clerical duties, filing reports,
implementing a database, assisting the director of the Fund,
supporting the Fund's instructors, and providing customer
service to the Fund's members. Benton Dep. at 22:7-11. By
2006, however, Ms. Benton had gained experience at the Fund
and the director during her initial period of employment,
Kelly Lapping, had been replaced by an individual who was
less familiar with the role, so Ms. Benton took on greater
responsibilities in assisting the director, communicating
with the Fund's third-party administrator about the
Fund's bills, and obtaining grants for the Fund.
Id. at 26:2-36:12; 52:13-56:18. Among other things,
Ms. Benton also reconciled the petty cash book, processed
checks for stipends, ordered office supplies and meals for
trainings, assisted in creating the Fund's training
schedules, solicited bids for service providers and rental
equipment, signed a $35, 220 lease for a copier, and kept the
office running while the director was out. Id. at
41:16-48:8, 58:18-59:13, 127:17-128:8, 137:19-144:19.
December 31, 2012, the Fund terminated its relationship with
the third-party administrator that had previously handled
tasks like administering payroll, benefits, and cutting
checks for vendors. Dep. Justin Meighan at 30:17-31:17, ECF
No. 31-6 (“Meighan Dep.”). The decision to
administer the Fund internally was made in an effort to
reduce the organization's expenses. Benton Dep. at
61:11-63:12. As a result, Mary McNelis began handling the
work related to administering the Fund as of January 1, 2013.
Id. at 62:2-63:12, 227:5-10. Ms. McNelis
“essentially took over a lot of [Ms. Benton's]
responsibilities.” Id. at 227:16-18; see
also Decl. Mary McNelis ¶ 5, ECF No. 31-13.
her employment at the Fund, Ms. Benton's annual salary
ranged from $50, 404 to $54, 512. Pl.'s Suppl. Resp.
Interrog. No. 15, ECF No. 32-12. She was not paid
time-and-half for hours worked on Saturdays, regardless of
whether it caused her to work over forty hours in a given
Benton was terminated on May 16, 2014, and she initiated this
action on June 25, 2014, alleging that she is entitled to
unpaid overtime wages for hours worked between February 9,
2008 and April 13, 2013. Compl. ¶¶ 12, 40, ECF No.
1. Counts I and II of her complaint alleged violations of the
overtime provisions of the FLSA and the DCMWRA, respectively,
id. ¶¶ 36-48, while Count III of Ms.
Benton's complaint alleged that she was unlawfully
terminated “in retaliation for complaining and
asserting her rights to unpaid overtime wages under the FLSA,
” id. ¶¶ 18-24, 49-56. In a prior
Memorandum Opinion, the Court granted summary judgment to the
Fund on Ms. Benton's FLSA overtime claim (as well as her
related retaliation claim), after finding that Ms. Benton
failed to establish that the Fund is a covered enterprise
under the FLSA. See generally Benton, 121 F.Supp.3d
41. In her Second Amended Complaint, Ms. Benton now alleges
that she is covered by the FLSA's individual coverage
because she “regularly and customarily crossed state
lines” in the “course of performing her job
duties.” 2d Am. Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 27. She again
seeks overtime compensation and liquidated damages under the
FLSA and the DCMWRA for hours she worked while employed at
the Fund. Id. ¶¶ 28-40.
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and [thus] the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); accord Talavera v. Shah, 638
F.3d 303, 308 (D.C. Cir. 2011). “A fact is material if
it ‘might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law, ' and a dispute about a material fact is
genuine ‘if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'”
Steele v. Schafer, 535 F.3d 689, 692 (D.C. Cir.
2008) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986)). When Rule 56 is invoked, the moving
party has the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of
a genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). When the
moving party does not bear the burden of persuasion at trial,
its burden “may be discharged by
‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district
court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325.
the moving party has met its burden, to defeat the motion the
nonmoving party must designate “specific facts showing
that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.
at 324 (citation omitted). Although the Court must view this
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party
and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor,
see Grosdidier v. Broad. Bd. of Governors, Chairman,
709 F.3d 19, 23-24 (D.C. Cir. 2013), the nonmoving party must
show more than “[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of
evidence in support of” his position-“there must
be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for [the
nonmoving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Moreover, the nonmoving party “may not rest upon mere
allegation or denials of his pleading but must present
affirmative evidence showing a genuine issue for
trial.” Laningham v. U.S. Navy, 813 F.2d 1236,
1241 (D.C. Cir. 1987) (internal quotation marks and citation
both parties file cross-motions for summary judgment,
“each must carry its own burden under the applicable
legal standard.” Ehrman v. United States, 429
F.Supp.2d 61, 67 (D.D.C. 2006); Nuzzo v. FBI, No.
95-CV-1708, 1996 WL 741587, at *1 (D.D.C. Oct. 8, 1996)
(“When both parties in a cause of action move for
summary judgment, each party must carry its own
burden.”). Finally, the Court notes that
“[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the
evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the
facts are jury functions, not those of a judge at summary
judgment.” Barnett v. PA Consulting Grp.,
Inc., 715 F.3d 354, 358 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (citation
omitted). Indeed, a court's role in deciding a summary
judgment motion is not to “determine the truth of the
matter, but instead [to] decide only whether there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Id. (citation
FLSA Overtime Claim
Benton's FLSA claim is premised on her allegation that
the Fund failed to pay her time-and-half for overtime hours
she worked during Saturday training sessions and otherwise,
in violation of the FLSA. See 2d Am. Compl.
¶¶ 28-34. “Under the FLSA an employee is
ordinarily entitled to pay equal to one and one-half times
his normal hourly wage for all hours worked beyond forty per
week.” Robinson-Smith v. Gov't Emps. Ins.
Co., 590 F.3d 886, 892 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (citing 29
U.S.C. § 207(a)(1)). Ms. Benton seeks summary judgment
as to unpaid overtime wages for hours worked between June 25,
2011 and December 31, 2012. Pl.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ.
J. at 5-18. The Fund's own motion for summary judgment
maintains that it is entitled to summary judgment as to the
entirety of Ms. Benton's FLSA claim because she has not
shown that she is individually covered by the FLSA and, in
any event, that even if she is covered she worked in a bona
fide administrative capacity during the relevant time period
and was therefore exempt from the FLSA. See
Def.'s Mot. Summ. ...