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Harris v. Swissport SA, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

April 7, 2017

George Kirsham Harris, Luxon Luborieux, Arturo Lacayo, and Eric Gamarra, Plaintiffs,
v.
Swissport SA, LLC, and Swissport Cargo Services, LP, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Robert N. Scola, Jr. United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs Luxon Laborieux, [1] Arturo Lacayo, and Eric Gamarra[2] all worked at the Miami International Airport. Laborieux and Lacayo were involved with fueling operations for Defendant Swissport SA; and Gamarra dealt with cargo operations for Defendant Swissport Cargo. The Plaintiffs claim the Defendants failed to properly compensate them under the Fair Labor Standards Act for all of the overtime hours they worked.

         In their motion for summary judgment, the Defendants claim that none of the Plaintiffs qualify for overtime coverage because they are exempt employees under the FLSA. The Court finds the Defendants have demonstrated the absence of a genuine issue of material fact regarding the FLSA's executive exemption and the Plaintiffs have failed to make a showing sufficient to permit a jury to reasonably find on their behalf. The Court therefore grants the Defendants' motion (ECF No. 46.)

         1. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper if following discovery, the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, affidavits and admissions on file show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. “An issue of fact is ‘material' if, under the applicable substantive law, it might affect the outcome of the case.” Hickson Corp. v. N. Crossarm Co., 357 F.3d 1256, 1259-60 (11th Cir.2004). “An issue of fact is ‘genuine' if the record taken as a whole could lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.” Id. at 1260. All the evidence and factual inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970); Jackson v. BellSouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1280 (11th Cir. 2004).

         Once a party properly makes a summary judgment motion by demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, whether or not accompanied by affidavits, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings through the use of affidavits, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, and designate specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24. The nonmovant's evidence must be significantly probative to support the claims. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). The Court will not weigh the evidence or make findings of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Morrison v. Amway Corp., 323 F.3d 920, 924 (11th Cir. 2003). Rather, the Court's role is limited to deciding whether there is sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable juror could find for the nonmoving party. Id. “If more than one inference could be construed from the facts by a reasonable fact finder, and that inference introduces a genuine issue of material fact, then the district court should not grant summary judgment.” Bannum, Inc. v. City of Fort Lauderdale, 901 F.2d 989, 996 (11th Cir. 1990)

         2. The Plaintiffs have not established a genuine issue for trial regarding the Plaintiffs' qualifications as exempt executives under the FLSA.

         Under the FLSA, an employer must compensate an employee who works more than forty hours a week at one and one-half times his regular rate. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). However, any worker who is employed as a “bona fide executive” is considered to be exempt from this requirement. 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1). The regulations relating to the FLSA set forth the criteria required to establish that an “employee [is] employed in a bona fide executive capacity”: (1) the employee must be compensated on a salary basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week; (2) the employee's primary duty must be management; (3) either (a) the employee must have hiring and firing authority; or (b) his suggestions and recommendations as to changes in the status of other employees must be “given particular weight”; and (4) the employee must “customarily and regularly” direct the work of two or more other employees. 29 C.F.R. § 541.100(a).

         A. Compensation

         The parties acknowledge there is no dispute that the Plaintiffs all received at least $455 a week.

         B. Managerial Duties

         The Department of Labor's regulations provide a long list of nonexclusive activities that it deems managerial in nature. 29 C.F.R. § 541.102. These tasks include: training employees; directing the work of employees; appraising employees' productivity and efficiency for the purpose recommending changes in status; disciplining employees; apportioning work among employees; determining the type of materials, supplies, machinery, equipment or tools to be used; controlling the flow and distribution of materials; providing for the safety and security of the employees or the property; and monitoring or implementing legal compliance measures. Id. The “[determination of an employee's primary duty must be based on all the facts in a particular case, with the major emphasis on the character of the employee's job as a whole.” Diaz v. Team Oney, Inc., 291 Fed. App'x 947, 949 (11th Cir. 2008) (citing 29 C.F.R. § 541.700(a)). The Defendants have demonstrated the absence of a genuine issue of material fact by submitting evidence, affidavits, and depositions that demonstrate that the Plaintiffs all performed many of the managerial activities listed in the regulations and that these were in fact their primary duties.

         Defendant Swissport SA provides fueling services to airlines at Miami International Airport. Both Laborieux and Lacayo were initially hired as fuelers but later accepted promotions to duty manager with Swissport SA. Regarding Laborieux, the Defendants have set forth evidence that shows that as duty manager he was responsible for:

• “the supervision and operations for the Fuel[]ing Division at the Miami International Airport” (Defs.' Stmt. of Mat. Facts ¶ 4, ECF No. 45, 2; Laborieux Resume, ECF No. 39-1);
• “supervising] approximately one hundred employees” (id.);
• “commanding] and deploy[ing] subordinate personnel, apparatus and equipment within the division” (id.);
• “actively work[ing] toward resolving personnel issues and challenges by understanding company policy and procedures related to the issues, and by utilizing good fact finding and supervisory techniques” (id.)
• “establishing and maintaining professional relationships with various department heads, division leaders and liaisons” (id.);
• “corporate compliance with all federal, state and local laws, policies and procedures with respect to fuel[]ing operations at the Miami International Airport” (id.; Laborieux Dep. 58:24-59:3, ECF No. 43-1);
• “evaluating] employee performance annually and continually monitor[ing] performance and mak[ing] evaluations” (Defs.' SOF ¶ 4; Laborieux Resume);
• “ensur[ing] that departmental goals are met to track departmental progress” (id.);
• training Lacayo when Lacayo was promoted to duty manager (Defs.' SOF ¶ 7; Lacayo Dep. 135:7-10, ECF No. 44-1); . providing operational reports at the end of every shift (Defs.' SOF ¶ 13; Laborieux Dep. at 68:17-69:3);
• conducting safety briefings and performing regular safety and quality assurance audits (Defs.' SOF ¶ 14; Laborieux Dep. 77:13-17);
• enforcing company and airline safety and health policies and procedures (Defs.' SOF ¶ 14; Laborieux Dep. 58:19-22); and
• fielding telephone calls from Swissport SA customers to resolve issues related to anything from malfunctioning equipment and gate mix-ups to delays and staffing problems to fuel spills (Defs.' SOF ¶¶ 11, 23; Laborieux Dep. 57:5-58:18, 128:10-21).

         With respect to Lacayo, the evidence presented by the Defendants establishes that he handled many of the same duties. Specifically, Lacayo was responsible for:

• “running an effective and safe operation” (Defs.' SOF ¶ 29; Lacayo ...

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