Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Fidler v. Twentieth Judicial District Drug Task Force

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

May 14, 2018

BRINK FIDLER and JUSTIN FOX, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE TWENTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT DRUG TASK FORCE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          WAVERLY D. CRENSHAW, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Brink Fidler and Justin Fox accrued hundreds of hours of compensatory time working for the Twentieth Judicial District Drug Task Force (the “Task Force”), but when the Task Force dissolved, it refused to pay for the accrued compensatory time. Fidler and Fox brought this action to obtain compensation for their accrued compensatory time, pursuant to the Fair Labor and Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (Doc. No. 18.) Before the Court is the Task Force's Motion for Summary Judgment against Fidler, arguing he was an exempt employee. (Doc. Nos. 40, 53.) Also before the Court is Fidler's and Fox's Motion for Summary Judgment, seeking compensatory and liquidated damages. (Doc. No. 44.) For the following reasons, Fox's Motion is granted in part and denied in part, while the remaining motions are denied.

         I. Undisputed Material Facts

         The Task Force was an inter-agency organization between the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (the “Police Department”) and the Office of the Twentieth Judicial District Attorney. (Doc. No. 58-1.) Its purpose was to find and arrest those responsible for the sale of large quantities of controlled substances in the Twentieth Judicial District, which serves Davidson County, Tennessee. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 1). The Board of Directors (the “Board”) controlled the Task Force, and consisted of the Chief of Police of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (the “Chief”); District Attorney of the Twentieth Judicial District (the “District Attorney”); and the Director of the Task Force (the “Director”). (Doc. No. 58-1 at 2.) The Chief and the District Attorney selected the Director. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 3.) The Board was also in charge of the Task Force's finances, including the hiring and firing of its employees and setting their salaries. (Doc. No. 61-3 at 6.)

         Over the relevant time period, Fidler served as the Director with an annual salary of $93, 419.00. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 5-6.) Prior to becoming the Director, Fidler was a Sergeant with the Police Department, and his job duties did not change with the change of titles. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 5; Doc. No. 56-5 at 16.) Fidler was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the Task Force and the general direction of investigations. (Doc. No. 59-1 at 10; Doc. No. 56-1 at 6; Doc. No. 56-5 at 15-16.) Fidler also worked in the field alongside other agents, assisting with arrests and writing field reports, among other field tasks, although it is disputed if he was required to do so or if that was his primary job duty. (Doc. No. 59-1 at 7-8.) When Fidler worked over forty-three hours in a week, he accrued compensatory time. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 6.) Fidler resigned form the Task Force effective June 30, 2015. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 5.)

         For the relevant time period, Fox served as a “Task Force Officer” and “Detective.” (Doc. No. 59-1 at 2.) His job duties included “conducting investigations of high level narcotics trafficking organizations, which entailed investigating drug complaints, conducting surveillance, executing search warrants, working wire-tap investigations, making arrests, seizure of property, conducting interviews, responding to calls for back-up, and preparing reports.” (Doc. No. 59-1 at 4.) Fox did not manage or supervise other employees. (Doc. No. 59-1 at 4.) Fox was terminated from the Task Force on June 30, 2015. (Doc. No. 59-1 at 2.)

         On July 1, 2015, the Board held a meeting. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 6.) In advance of the meeting, Fidler prepared the minutes, which stated that the Board “discussed and approved the payout of accumulated comp time to Justin Fox and Brink Fidler.” (Doc. No. 58-1 at 6.) The minutes also reflected that the Task Force would pay Fox $17, 362.56 for his 480 hours of accrued compensatory time at an hourly rate of $36.172, (Doc. No. 58-1 at 6), and would pay Fidler for 351 hours of accrued compensatory time at an hourly rate of $44.913, which totals $15, 764.46. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 6.) The District Attorney, who was then Glen Funk, and Chief did not sign the board minutes. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 8.)

         After the board meeting, Funk asked Michael Brook, the Director of Finance Operations for the District Attorney, to investigate whether Fidler was entitled to a payout of his accrued compensatory time. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 7-8.) Brook emailed Tara Stewart, Metro's Human Resources employee assigned to the District Attorney's office, and inquired whether Fidler was entitled to payout of his accrued compensatory time. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 9.) Stewart stated that he was not eligible for compensatory time. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 9.) Fidler also asked Michael Taylor, Stewart's supervisor, to investigate the issue, and he agreed. (Doc. No. 58-1 at 10.) Brook informed the District Attorney and Chief that Fidler was exempt under the FLSA and recommended that the Board not approve payment of compensatory time. (Doc. No. 58-1at 11-12.)

         II. Analysis

         Fidler moves for summary judgment because, he argues, the FLSA requires the Task Force to pay accrued compensatory time even if he is an exempt employee, and alternatively, that he is not an exempt employee. Fox moves for summary judgment for his accrued compensatory time, which is unopposed subject to any statute of limitations defenses. Both Fidler and Fox also move for summary judgment on their liquidated damages claim. The Task Force moves for summary judgment against Fidler because he is an exempt employee, and against Fidler and Fox on any damages accruing over two years ago as time-barred.

         Courts grant summary judgment only “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). To grant summary judgment, courts must view the “facts and reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.” Ferrari v. Ford Motor Co., 826 F.3d 885, 891 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). This burden is not decreased solely because both parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. On cross-motions for summary judgments, courts may rule that “neither party met its burden of demonstrating that no genuine issue of material fact existed when all inferences were drawn, in turn, for the nonmoving party, such that it would be proper for the case to go to trial.” B.F. Goodrich Co. v. U.S. Filter Corp., 245 F.3d 587, 593 (6th Cir. 2001).

         A. Fidler

         Fidler argues that regardless of whether he is an exempt employee, he is entitled to a payout of his accrued compensatory time under 29 C.F.R. § 553.27. The FLSA permits public agencies to give their employees compensatory time off “at a rate no less than one and one-half hours for each hour of employment for which overtime compensation is required” by the FLSA. 29 U.S.C. § 207(o)(1). Upon termination of employment, compensatory time “shall” be paid not less than “(A) the average regular rate received by such employee during the last 3 years of the employee's employment, or (B) the final regular rate received by such employee.” Id. at (4).

         Fidler relies on the word “shall, ” which is reiterated in 29 C.F.R. § 553.27(b), to argue that payment of accrued compensatory time is required. However, “shall” only describes the rate to be paid, not whether the employee is entitled to payment. Instead, an “employer may provide an exempt employee with additional compensation without losing the exemption.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.604(a) (effective on June 30, 2014). “Such additional compensation . . . may include paid time off.” Id. “Compensatory time off, ” which is an interchangeable term with “compensatory time, ” is “paid time off the job which is earned and accrued by an employee in lieu of immediate cash payment for employment in excess of the statutory hours for which overtime compensation is required by section 7 of the FLSA.” 29 C.F.R. § 553.22. In other words, an employer may give an exempt employee paid ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.