United States District Court, S.D. Florida
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY
BLOOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CAUSE is before the Court upon Defendant's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, ECF No. 
(“Motion”). The Court has carefully considered
the Motion, Plaintiff's Response, ECF No. , the
Reply, ECF No. , all supporting and opposing
submissions, the record in this case, the applicable law, and
is otherwise fully advised. For the reasons set forth below,
the Motion is denied.
case arises from alleged violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. §§
201, et seq. Plaintiff Aaron Vantrease
(“Plaintiff”) seeks recovery for unpaid overtime
(Count 1) and retaliation (Count 3). See Amended
Complaint, ECF No. . In the Motion, Defendant requests
summary judgment on Plaintiff's claims for hours worked
under forty (40) hours per week, retaliation, and hostile
work environment. As Plaintiff correctly points out, however,
the Amended Complaint does not allege a claim for unpaid
minimum wages under the FLSA, or for hostile work environment
separate from his retaliation claim. See ECF No.
 at 4, 18. As such, the only claim at issue in
Defendant's Motion is Plaintiff's retaliation claim.
was as a Rural Carrier Associate (“RCA”) for the
United States Postal Service (“USPS”) from
February 2017 until his termination on September 13, 2018.
Defendant's Undisputed Statement of Material Facts
(“Def. SOMF”), ECF No.  at 2-6, ¶ 1; ECF
No. [91-15]. As an RCA, Plaintiff delivered mail and
packages to Postal Service customers, filling in for other
carriers, or when he was assigned to assist a carrier. Def.
SOMF ¶ 2. Plaintiff also delivered Amazon packages and
other special mail. Id. Plaintiff worked out of two
postal stations-the Delray Main and Delray West stations.
Id. ¶ 3. Plaintiff's immediate supervisor
at Delray West was Michael Razzano, and his supervisors at
the Main Post Office were Tia Odom and Vince Rollerson.
Id. ¶ 4; Plaintiff's Opposing Statement of
Material Facts (“Pl. SOMF”), ECF No.  ¶
4. Plaintiff was also supervised by John Miceli and John
Fanelli. Def. SOMF ¶ 5. The manager for the Delray West
branch for most of the time of Plaintiff's employment was
Steve Maiorino. Id. ¶ 6.
in mid-2017, Plaintiff reported issues of missing wages and
failure to pay overtime to his superiors and human resources.
Pl. SOMF ¶ 25; ECF No. [107-1]. Plaintiff also
complained to Maiorino. Id. ¶ 26. In late 2017,
Plaintiff complained to the Postal Service's Office of
Inspector General (“OIG”) about alleged time card
fraud being committed by other USPS employees, including USPS
management. Def. SOMF ¶ 8. In early January 2018,
Plaintiff reported the FLSA violations including missing
overtime and other ongoing fraud and thefts to the
Postmaster, Joseph Molfetto. Pl. SOMF ¶ 27. Thereafter,
Plaintiff lodged a congressional complaint regarding the
alleged time card fraud committed by RCA Ashley Royster and
Regular Rural Carrier Lee Ann Velez. Def. SOMF ¶ 9; Pl.
SOMF ¶¶ 27, 29; ECF No. [91-2]; ECF Nos. [91-1],
[107-2] (“Report”). The OIG conducted an
investigation covering the time period of January 16, 2018 to
March 30, 2018, and issued its Report dated April 12, 2018.
Def. SOMF ¶ 8. During the investigation, Velez asked the
OIG agent if the person who made the allegations against her
was Plaintiff. Pl. SOMF ¶ 31. Molfetto stated that he
was not aware of any time card fraud and had not been advised
of time card fraud issues occurring at Delray West. Pl. SOMF
¶ 32. On February 12, 2018, four days after the OIG
agent interviewed Plaintiff's supervisor Razzano, Razzano
conducted an investigative interview of Plaintiff for
unsatisfactory performance and failure to follow
instructions. Id. ¶ 35. Ultimately, according
to the OIG Report, the investigation could not substantiate
any of Vantrease's allegations. ECF Nos. [91-1], [107-2]
at 3. On May 6, 2018, after the OIG completed its
investigation, Plaintiff sent another letter to his
congressman regarding the alleged time card fraud and the OIG
investigation. ECF No. [91-3].
April 2018, Royster and another USPS employee, Ebony Heller,
complained about Plaintiff's conduct. Def. SOMF ¶
10. Heller stated that she did not feel safe working around
Plaintiff. Royster stated that Plaintiff made her feel
uncomfortable, that he scared her, and that she feared for
her life whenever they work together. ECF No. [91-4] at 3;
ECF No. [107-7] at 10. Velez also complained about
Plaintiff's conduct. ECF No. [91-7]. The USPS Inspection
Service thereafter conducted an investigation. ECF Nos.
[91-6], [107-7], [91-8], [107-13]. On May 4, 2018, Plaintiff
was interviewed by two postal inspectors regarding Royster
and Heller's complaints. Plaintiff admitted to making a
statement sympathizing with the Parkland shooter to make a
point of how evil Razzano was as a manager. ECF No. [91-10].
Plaintiff also admitted to making copies of Royster's
time cards in order to prove employees were stealing time by
marking incorrect start times. Id. On May 8, 2018,
Miceli issued Plaintiff a letter of warning for failing to
follow instructions. Pl. SOMF ¶ 40. Plaintiff met with
Miceli and Fanelli on May 18, 2018 and was then placed in
emergency off duty status that same day. Def. SOMF
¶¶ 15-16; Pl. SOMF ¶ 39. Plaintiff was
subsequently instructed to report to work on May 21, 2018,
May 24, 2018, and May 29, 2018 for additional investigative
interviews regarding his continued absence without leave. Pl.
SOMF ¶¶ 49-50; ECF No. [107-9], [107-10]. Plaintiff
did not appear on May 29, 2018. In total, Supervisor Miceli,
who replaced Razzano, conducted seven investigative
interviews of Plaintiff-two on April 9, 2018, two on April
20, 2018, two on May 9, 2018 and one on May 18, 2018. Pl.
SOMF ¶ 39. The parties dispute whether Plaintiff was
properly paid for the investigative interviews.
30, 2018, the same postal inspectors interviewed Plaintiff
with respect to Velez's complaint. ECF No. [91-11].
Plaintiff denied making any statements regarding an intent to
harm anyone at the post office. Id. On July 11,
2018, supervisor Abideen Adeyemo, with the agreement of
acting manager Angela Byers and approval from Maiorino,
requested that Plaintiff be permanently removed from USPS
employment for failure to appear as directed on May 29, 2018.
Pl. SOMF ¶ 62.
Maiorino sent Plaintiff a text message on July 16, 2018,
advising Plaintiff to report to work at Delray West on July
17, 2018. Def. SOMF ¶ 20; Pl. SOMF ¶ 20. After
Plaintiff failed to report to work on July 17, 2018, USPS
sent Plaintiff a letter regarding his failure to report, and
instructed him to report to work on July 19, 2018. Def. SOMF
¶ 21. According to Plaintiff, the letter was delivered
to his mailbox less than 24 hours before he was to report for
duty. Pl. SOMF ¶ 21. Plaintiff again did not report for
work on July 19, 2018, and he was sent another letter on July
21, 2018, directing him to report to work on July 25, 2018.
Def. SOMF ¶ 22. Plaintiff received the letter on July
24, 2018 at 11:40 a.m., and maintains that the letter was not
received with reasonable advance notice. Pl. SOMF ¶ 22.
Plaintiff did not report to work on July 24, 2018. Def. SOMF
¶ 23. By letter dated August 13, 2018, Plaintiff was
advised that he was going to be removed from USPS on
September 13, 2018 because he was deemed to have abandoned
his position due to his failure to report to work.
Id. ¶ 23.
may grant a motion for 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). The parties may support their
positions by citation to the record, including, inter
alia, depositions, documents, affidavits, or
declarations. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). An issue is
genuine if “a reasonable trier of fact could return
judgment for the non-moving party.” Miccosukee
Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. United States, 516 F.3d
1235, 1243 (11th Cir. 2008) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). A fact is
material if it “might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law.” Id. (quoting
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48). The court views the
facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and
draws all reasonable inferences in the party's favor.
Davis v. Williams, 451 F.3d 759, 763 (11th Cir.
2006); see also Crocker v. Beatty , 886 F.3d 1132,
1134 (11th Cir. 2018) (“[W]e accept [the
non-movant's] version of the facts as true and draw all
reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to him as
the non-movant.”). “The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving
party's] position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which a jury could reasonably find for the
[non-moving party].” Anderson, 477 U.S. at
252. “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). The Court does not weigh
conflicting evidence. See Skop v. City of Atlanta,
Ga., 485 F.3d 1130, 1140 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Carlin Comm'n, Inc. v. S. Bell Tel. & Tel.
Co., 802 F.2d 1352, 1356 (11th Cir. 1986)).
moving party shoulders the initial burden to demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Shiver v.
Chertoff, 549 F.3d 1342, 1343 (11th Cir. 2008). If a
movant satisfies this burden, “the non-moving party
‘must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'”
Ray v. Equifax Info. Servs., L.L.C., 327 Fed.Appx.
819, 825 (11th Cir. 2009) (quoting Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
586 (1986)). Instead, “the non-moving party ‘must
make a sufficient showing on each essential element of the
case for which he has the burden of proof.'”
Id. (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The non-moving party must produce
evidence, going beyond the pleadings, and by its own
affidavits, or by depositions, answers to interrogatories,
and admissions on file, designating specific facts to suggest
that a reasonable jury could find in the non-moving
party's favor. Shiver, 549 F.3d at 1343. But
even where an opposing party neglects to submit any alleged
material facts in controversy, a court cannot grant summary
judgment unless it is satisfied that all of the evidence on
the record supports the uncontroverted material facts that
the movant has proposed. Reese v. Herbert, 527 F.3d
1253, 1268-69, 1272 (11th Cir. 2008); United States v.
One Piece of Real Prop. Located at 5800 S.W. 74th Ave.,
Miami, Fla., 363 F.3d 1099, 1103 n.6 (11th Cir. 2004).