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Hesse v. Atlas Mortgage Partners, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

October 4, 2017




         This is a case about $371.20 in allegedly unpaid overtime compensation. Factoring in possible liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., Zachary Hesse's damages claim could double to $742.40. Potential attorney's fees are unknown, but likely many multiples of that amount.

         Hesse has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, (Doc. No. 27), claiming there is no dispute that he worked overtime, or about the number of overtime hours he worked without proper compensation. His former employer, Atlas Mortgage Partners, LLC, and its owner, Kate Matties, oppose the Motion. (Doc. No. 31).[1] Because Hesse has not supported his Motion in the manner required by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it will be denied.

         I. Factual Background

         From April 1, 2015, through at least June 2016, Hesse worked full-time at Atlas. (Doc. No. 28-1 at 1-25). His hourly rate of pay was initially $10.50, but that was increased to $11.50 on June 17, 2015, and increased to $12.50 on March 1, 2016. (Id. at 1, 6, 25).

         Hesse filled out his own time sheets, and provided them to Matties or an office manager for payment. (Doc. No. 32 at 2; Doc. No. 28-1 at 2-3). In those time sheets, Hesse claims to have worked anywhere between 40.5 to 50.5 in a given week.

         Hesse asserts that, prior to September 30, 2015, he was paid at his regular rate of pay for all hours worked during a week. (Doc. No. 32 at7). After that date, Hesse was paid time and one-half for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week, and this practice continued throughout the remainder of his employment. (Id.). Thus, the crux of this case is the additional half of the regular rate of pay per hour for overtime worked, i.e. the $5.25 per hour overtime until his raise on June 17, 2016, and the $5.75 per hour overtime until, Hesse claims, Atlas first began paying time and one-half.

         Based upon his time sheets, Hesse calculates that he worked 50.25 hours of overtime from April 1, 2015 to September 16, 2015, apparently leaving it to the Court to determine the amount due by analyzing the time sheets, determining the amount of overtime, and setting a figure based upon whether he was being paid $10.50 or $11.50 per hour at the time. In response to Hesse's statement of fact on this issue, Defendants assert that “[t]he documents speak for themselves.” (Doc. 31 at 7 ¶ 31). However, in their response brief, Defendants state that “[c]onsidering the hours worked during the relevant workweeks, Plaintiff actually worked an aggregate total of 51.5 overtime hours, not the 50.25 he claims in his Motion for Summary Judgment, ” and this amounts “to a total of $361.70 in overtime wages alleged[ly] owed to Plaintiff for the relevant periods.” (Doc. No. 31 at 7-8).

         Not surprisingly, Hesse agrees with the larger number of hours, and, in his reply brief assert that he “is entitled to $371.20” in damages, plus a like amount in liquidated damages. (Doc. No. 35 at 2). Hence the figure set forth at the outset of this decision.

         II. Legal Discussion

         Section 207(a) of the FLSA generally requires that employers pay employees specified hourly rates for up to 40 hours per week and pay overtime compensation of one and one-half times the regular rate for hours worked in excess of that threshold amount. 29 U.S.C. § 207. To prevail in an FLSA overtime suit, a plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he “performed work for which he was not properly compensated.” Moran v. Al Basit LLC, 788 F.3d 201, 205 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687 (1946)). As the parties in this case agree, this, in turn, requires a plaintiff to establish (1) “that the plaintiff was employed by the defendant, ” (2) “that the defendant was an enterprise engaged in interstate commerce, ” and (3) “that the defendant failed to pay overtime compensation to the plaintiff for each hour worked in excess of forty hours per week.” Roberts v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 2015 WL 3905088, at *8 (M.D. Tenn. June 25, 2015); see Manning v. Boston Med. Ctr. Corp., 725 F.3d 34, 43 (1st Cir. 2013) (identifying same as “basic elements of an FLSA claim”); Benion v. Lecom, Inc., 2016 WL 2801562, at *4 (E.D. Mich. May 13, 2016) (collecting cases stating these are the essential elements).

         A review of Defendants' arguments suggest that they do not oppose Hesse's Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that he cannot ultimately establish a basis for at least some relief. Rather, their position is that the Motion is not adequately supported as required by Rule 56. This Court agrees.

         Under Rule 56, summary judgment is only appropriate where there are no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). In ruling on such a Motion, the facts and inferences to be drawn therefrom must be construed in favor of the nonmoving party, Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk W. R.R., Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007), with the moving party always bearing the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue as to a material fact, F.T.C. v. E.M.A. Nationwide, Inc., 767 F.3d 611, 630 (6th Cir. 2014). Hesse has failed to carry that burden with respect to at least two of the three essential elements of an FLSA unpaid overtime claim.

         A. Employe ...

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