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Janice Ruffin et al v. New Destination

August 8, 2011

JANICE RUFFIN ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
NEW DESTINATION, LLC ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiffs Janice Ruffin and Rev. Keith Young (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed this action against Defendants New Destination, LLC and India Lyles (collectively, "Defendants") seeking to recover wages they claim they are owed for hours worked as employees of Defendant New Destination, LLC. Plaintiffs have asserted a claim for breach of contract and causes of action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 ("FLSA"), and the D.C. Wage Payment and Collection Law, D.C. Code § 32-1308 ("DCWPCL"). On March 29, 2011, the Court granted-in-part and denied-in-part Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, entering judgment against Defendant New Destination, LLC on Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim. The Court dismissed Plaintiffs' breach of contract claim against Defendant Lyles because it was clear from the record that Lyles was not a party to those agreements. The Court also ruled that Plaintiffs had failed to state a claim against Defendant Lyles as the alter ego of Defendant New Destination, LLC. With respect to Plaintiffs' other claims, the Court denied Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment without prejudice because Plaintiffs failed to adequately discuss the elements of those claims.

Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' [35] Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiffs contend that they are entitled to judgment against Defendants on their FLSA and DCWPCL claims because the undisputed facts clearly show that they were not paid wages owed to them. For the reasons explained below, the Court agrees that Plaintiffs are entitled to judgment on their FLSA and DCWPCL claims. Accordingly, the Court shall GRANT Plaintiffs' renewed motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, because Defendants failed to file an opposition to Plaintiffs' renewed motion for summary judgment, the Court may alternatively grant the motion as conceded.

I. BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn primarily from Plaintiffs' Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Pls.' Stmt."), which was filed with Plaintiffs' initial motion for summary judgment.*fn1 Additional facts are drawn from Plaintiffs' Statement of Material Facts as to Which There Is No Genuine Issue ("Pls.' 2d Stmt."), which was filed with their renewed motion for summary judgment; the Court accepts these facts as undisputed because Defendants failed to file an opposition to Plaintiffs' renewed motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff Janice Ruffin ("Ruffin") is a social worker with a license in counseling issued by the District of Columbia. Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 1. Since earning a masters degree in social work, Ruffin has worked with adults and juveniles in Washington, D.C., many of whom have a history of substance abuse. Id. Rev. Keith Young ("Young") is an "Elder" in the Apostolic Christian Church and is currently the Pastor of Sovereign Ministries of the Apostolic Faith in Washington, D.C. Id. ¶ 2. Young earned a Ph.D. in pastoral counseling in 2000 and provides pastoral counseling to his members and works as a spiritual counselor. Id.

Defendant New Destination, LLC ("New Destination") is a professional corporation that provided individual and group counseling for addiction recovery. Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 3. Defendant India Lyles ("Lyles") is the Executive Director and owner of New Destination. Id. ¶ 4; Answer ¶ 6. On May 8, 2008, New Destination entered into a Health Care Provider Agreement with the D.C. Department of Health Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration to provide health care services as part of a drug treatment program. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 7; Pl.'s Ex. 5 ("Human Care Provider Agreement"). Lyles signed the contract as "CEO" of New Destination. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 8. The contract became effective on May 21, 2008. Id. ¶ 9. The Articles of Organization that New Destination filed with the D.C. government show state that Lyles has a "50% ownership as a member, with such capital accounts, management control, and percentage ownerships and rights to receive profits and losses as are set fourth [sic] in the Operating Agreement, Membership Certificates and such other written agreements between the members." Pls.' 2d Stmt. ¶ 6.

Both Young and Ruffin submitted "Application[s] for Employment" with Defendants in 2008. Pls.' 2d Stmt. ¶ 1. The application form asked for "employment desired" and stated at the top, "Pre-Employment Questionnaire Equal Opportunity Employer." Id. On February 18, 2008, Ruffin signed a contract with New Destination to work as a counselor. Pls.' Stmt. ¶ 3. New Destination agreed to pay Ruffin $50 per hour for individual counseling and $65 per hour for group counseling. Id. ¶ 6. Young signed a contract to work for New Destination as a "Faith Based Minister" on April 10, 2008. Id. ¶¶ 5-6. New Destination agreed to pay Young $17 per hour. Id. ¶ 6. Soon after being hired, Ruffin and Young recruited clients for New Destination from missions, jails, and throughout the District of Columbia. Id. ¶ 11. The "Professional Services Agreement" that each plaintiff signed states that New Destination, as the "Client," can terminate the Agreement "for cause of non-performance." Pls.' 2d Stmt. ¶ 2. Under "Service Delivery," the Agreement states that "[t]he extent of your authority of the execution of the program will be determined by the Clinical Director." Id. ¶ 3. Under "Compensation and Operating Hours," the Agreement states that "[y]ou will be expected to work up to thirty (40) [sic] hours per week at the rate of $per hour [sic]. . . . Any changes in your scheduled working hours shall be approved by the Clinical Director." Id. Lyles signed the Professional Services Agreement for both Ruffin and Young in her capacity as the Executive Director of New Destination. Id. ¶ 7.

Ruffin counseled her first client at New Destination on May 21, 2008. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 12. Ruffin provided both group counseling and individual counseling for addiction recovery and prevention for her clients at New Destination. Id. ¶ 14. Ruffin submitted time sheets known as "NDBHS Tickets" to Lyles listing the date and hours worked and the names of the clients she counseled. See id.; Pl.'s Ex. 6 (NDBHS Tickets). Ruffin worked hundreds of hours for New Destination between May and October 2008 and claims that she is owed $15,675.25 in back pay. See Pl.'s Ex. 4 (Decl. of Janice Ruffin) ¶ 9. Ruffin's only payment from New Destination came in the form of a $1000 check issued on October 9, 2008. Id. ¶ 10. Ruffin claims that Lyles was responsible for providing information about her counseling sessions to the D.C. Department of Health. Id. ¶ 13. Defendants do not dispute that Lyles told New Destination employees that she was "solely responsible for billing." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 11. Lyles admitted that only she was responsible for sending documents to the D.C. Department of Health for reimbursement. Pls.' 2d Stmt. ¶ 8.

Young also worked hundreds of hours between April and December 2008 counseling clients for New Destination, and he submitted "NDBHS Tickets" to Lyles describing the services performed. See Pl.'s Ex. 3 (Decl. of Rev. Keith Young) ¶¶ 5, 7; Pl.'s Exs. 8A, 8B, 8C, 8D (NDBHS Tickets). Young was only paid twice, once with a $1000 check on October 8, 2008, and a second time with a $1500 check on October 31, 2008. Pl.'s Ex. 3 (Decl. of Rev. Keith Young) ¶ 8. The $1500 check bounced, and Lyles subsequently paid Young $1000 in cash. Id. Young claims that he is owed $11,500 in back pay. Id. ¶ 9.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment on all of their claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. "The court shall grant summary judgment 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).

A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by:

(A) citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), ...


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