United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Pensacola Division
CASEY RODGERS CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dellaina Merritt filed this suit against Defendant Escambia
County, Florida claiming that the County failed to compensate
her for hours she worked in excess of forty hours per week,
as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”). Pending before the Court is
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 33, and
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment as to
liability, ECF No. 34. Having fully considered the record and
the arguments of the parties, the Court finds the motions are
due to be denied.
began working for Escambia County in May 1998 as an Equipment
Operator I. In April 2000, she was promoted to the position
of Field Supervisor for the Roads and Bridges Division of
Public Works, the position she currently holds. Field
Supervisors are responsible for supervising various levels of
Equipment Operators and Road Correctional Officers
(“RCOs”). Merritt's “crew” is
made up of eight Equipment Operators and three RCOs. Her crew
is responsible for maintaining approximately 600 holding
ponds throughout the county. In addition to supervising their
crew, Field Supervisors are required to perform on-call
duties. If called out, Field Supervisors, including Merritt,
are paid a minimum of two hours of compensation, and if the
callout requires more than two hours, they are compensated at
“straight time” for all of the time actually
worked, which is equivalent to one times the hourly rate.
Each employees' paycheck is broken down into an hourly
rate in order to calculate the straight time overtime.
Supervisors are required to clock in and clock out at work.
Thomas Turner, Director of Human Resources, explained that
the clock in and out requirement is used so that sick leave,
annual leave, and overtime compensation can be accurately
calculated. See ECF No. 33-1, Turner Aff. ¶
3-5; see also ECF No. 33-1, Overtime and
Compensatory Time in Lieu of Overtime Pay Policy. Merritt
testified that even if there is nothing to be done at work,
she would still get paid and that if her work was finished
she was “free to take leave and go on home” so
long as it was approved by her Program Manager, Aaron Smith.
ECF No. 33-1, Merritt Dep. at 56.
official Job Description for a Field Supervisor lists the
applicable “salary range, ” in hourly, biweekly,
monthly, and annual rates. ECF No. 33-6, Job Description for
Field Supervisor at 28. The Job Description also lists a
variety of duties, including “making hiring,
termination, and disciplinary recommendations.”
Id. Merritt testified that although she is in charge
of her crew, she does not hire or fire anyone. Further,
Merritt testified that she does not have the authority to
discipline her crew and has never been asked for a
recommendation as to whether particular employees should be
promoted. Instead, according to Merritt, Field Supervisors
make discipline reports to a Program Manager who then makes
the reports to Wesley Moreno, Deputy Director of Public
Works. Merritt also testified that she has initiated
disciplinary actions against her crew members in the past and
that she has “made a recommendation or input about
terminating an employee.” ECF No. 33-1, Merritt Dep. at
41. Further, she testified that she determines which
employees are assigned to particular jobs within her crew.
filed this suit in order to recover unpaid overtime wages
under the FLSA. Specifically, she claims she was compensated
for hours she worked in excess of forty hours per week at one
times her hourly rate, as opposed to one and one-half times
her hourly rate, as required by the FLSA. Defendant claims it
is entitled to summary judgment because Merritt is a
“bona fide executive, ” and thus exempt from
receiving overtime wages under the FLSA. See 29
U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).
judgment is appropriate when the evidence, viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party, “shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material
fact” and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a); see also Martin,
543 F.3d at 1265. Summary judgment is not appropriate
“if a reasonable fact finder evaluating the evidence
could draw more than one inference from the facts and if
that inference introduces a genuine issue of material
fact.” Jeffery v. Sarasota White Sox, Inc., 64
F.3d 590, 594 (11th Cir. 1995). An issue of fact is
“material” if it might affect the outcome of the
case under the governing law, and it is “genuine”
if the record taken as a whole could lead a rational fact
finder to find for the non-moving party. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986);
Reeves v. C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc., 594 F.3d
798, 807 (11th Cir. 2010) (en banc). The Court will not make
credibility determinations or weigh the evidence presented on
summary judgment. Frederick v. Sprint/United
Mgm't Co., 246 F.3d 1305, 1311 (11th Cir. 2001).
When the Court reviews cross-motions for summary judgment,
the standard of review does not differ from that applied when
only one party files a motion. U.S. ex rel. Saldivar v.
Fresenius Med. Care Holdings, Inc., 972 F.Supp.2d 1339,
1341 (N.D.Ga. 2013) (citing Am. Bankers Ins. Grp. v.
United States, 408 F.3d 1328, 1331 (11th Cir. 2005)).
The Court must consider each motion on its own merits,
“resolving all reasonable inferences against the party
whose motion is under consideration.” Id.
the FLSA, employees are entitled to receive overtime pay at
one and one-half times their regular rate for any hours
worked in excess of forty hours per week. See 29
U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The FLSA exempts from the overtime
requirement “any employee employed in a bona fide
executive, administrative, or professional capacity.”
Id. at § 213(a)(1). An employee is properly
classified as a “bona fide executive” if:
(1) [s]he is compensated on a salary basis at a rate of not
less than $455 per week; (2) [her] primary duty is management
of the enterprise in which [s]he is employed or of a
customarily recognized department or subdivision thereof; (3)
[s]he customarily and regularly directs the work of two or
more other employees; and (4) [s]he has the authority to hire
or fire other employees, or [her] suggestions and
recommendations as to the hiring, firing, advancement,
promotion, or any other change of status of other employees
are given particular weight.
Watkins v. City of Montgomery, 919 F.Supp.2d 1254,
1259 (M.D. Ala. 2013) (quoting 29 C.F.R. § 541.100(a))
(internal marks omitted). Because “entitlement to an
overtime exemption under the FLSA is an affirmative defense,
” the defendant bears the burden of proof. Id.
(citing Morgan v. Family Dollar Stores, Inc., 551
F.3d 1233, 1269 (11th Cir. 2008)). Moreover, exemptions
should be narrowly construed and applied “only to those
employees who are ‘plainly and unmistakably' within
the terms and spirit of the [FLSA].” Phillips, Inc.
v. Walling, 324 U.S. 490, 493 (1945). Merritt does not
dispute that her primary duty is management or that she
customarily and regularly directs the work of two or more
employees. Therefore, only the first and fourth requirements
of the “bona fide executive” exemption are at
issue in this case-whether she was compensated on a salary
basis and whether she had authority to hire or fire employees
or make recommendations which were given particular weight.
the first requirement-whether Merritt is compensated on a
salary basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week-it is
undisputed that her pay exceeds the $455 threshold. The only
dispute, therefore, is whether she is ...