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W.D.Tenn.: “Maintenance Director” Not Executive Exempt; Management Not Primary Duty; Defendant Failed To Establish Plaintiff Supervised 2 Or More Co-Employees
Jones v. FMSC Leasehold, LLC
Before the Court was Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment seeking a finding that he was not executive exempt as a matter if law, because management was not his primary duty, and because he did not supervise 2 or more employees. The Court granted Plaintiff’s Motion, agreeing that neither of these required elements of the executive exemption were present here.
Plaintiff was employed at High Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center (“the facility”) from June 19, 2005 to February 5, 2008. Starting in November 2005 and continuing until his employment ended, Plaintiff served as Maintenance Director at the facility. Plaintiff averred that he had only one assistant reporting to him during that time, and Sanford Mann, the administrator of the facility, verified that Plaintiff had only one assistant during the time Mann worked at the facility from June 2007 to January 2008. Plaintiff contended that his primary job duty as Maintenance Director was manual labor performing general maintenance tasks at the facility. Plaintiff received a salary and was not compensated by the hour. During weeks in which he worked more than forty (40) hours, Plaintiff was not paid one and one-half (1.5) times his regular rate of pay. Plaintiff argued that Defendant could demonstrate that Plaintiff was an exempt employee for purposes of overtime pay as defined under the FLSA and its regulations.
First, the Court discussed Defendant’s failure to raise an issue of triable fact regarding Plaintiff’s primary duty, stating, “[t]he Court holds that Defendant has failed to carry its burden as to the second element, whether Plaintiff’s primary duty was management. Defendant argues that Plaintiff held the title “Maintenance Director” at the facility and his primary duty was to manage the maintenance department and the assistants who reported to him. According to Defendant, Plaintiff had input on the hiring, firing, promotion and assignment of his assistants and was able to set his own work schedule. Plaintiff disputes that he ever had actual managerial duties and argues that his duties were limited to only maintenance tasks.
Rather than rely on a job description or an employee’s job title, the Court must analyze an employee’s “actual duties” in light of the factors set forth and defined in the Department of Labor regulations. With respect to this second element of the exemption, Defendant must prove that Plaintiff’s primary duty was “management of the enterprise in which the employee is employed or of a customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof.”The regulations implementing the FLSA define “management” to include activities such as interviewing, selecting, and training of employees; setting and adjusting their rates of pay and hours of work; directing the work of employees; maintaining production or sales records for use in supervision or control; appraising employees’ productivity and efficiency for the purpose of recommending promotions or other changes in status; handling employee complaints and grievances; disciplining employees; planning the work; determining the techniques to be used; apportioning the work among the employees; determining the type of materials, supplies, machinery, equipment or tools to be used or merchandise to be bought, stocked and sold; controlling the flow and distribution of materials or merchandise and supplies; providing for the safety and security of the employees or the property; planning and controlling the budget; and monitoring or implementing legal compliance measures.
The phrase “a customarily recognized department or subdivision” indicates “a unit with permanent status and … a continuing function.” Furthermore, “[c]ontinuity of the same subordinate personnel is not essential to the existence of a recognized unit with a continuing function.”
Perhaps most importantly, the Court must determine that management was the employee’s primary duty in order for the exemption to apply. A “primary duty” means “the principal, main, major or most important duty that the employee performs.”
Based on the record before the Court, Defendant has failed to adduce evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Plaintiff’s primary duty was management. In his affidavit Plaintiff has stated that his primary job duties were as follows: manual labor such as replacing lights, replacing receptacles, cutting the lawn, law (sic) maintenance, cleaning and servicing heating and air units, minor plumbing, painting, carpeting, tiling floors, minor pipe replacement, some small motor repair, and other preventive maintenance including record keeping and documentation….
Defendant has not demonstrated the amount of time Plaintiff spent performing exempt work or the scope of discretion Plaintiff was granted in performing that work. Defendant has presented no evidence concerning Plaintiff’s relative freedom from direct supervision other than to state Defendant could set his own schedule. Defendant has failed to provide evidence about wages paid to other employees including employees Plaintiff allegedly supervised for the same kind of nonexempt work performed by Plaintiff. As a result, Defendant has provided very little from which a reasonable juror could find that this element is satisfied.
Defendant has proffered a job description for Plaintiff’s position. However, there is no corroborating evidence that the duties listed in the five-page job description were the actual duties carried out by Plaintiff….
Having failed to meet its burden as to this element, the Court concludes that Defendant is not entitled to the affirmative defense that Plaintiff was an exempt employee.”
The Court further held that Defendant could not satisfy the so-called 2 or more element either.
Therefore, the Court held that, as a matter of law, Plaintiff was not subject to the FLSA’s executive exemption.