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BURKE v. COUNTY OF MONROE

September 18, 2002

MICHAEL BURKE, STEVENS MOYER, WILLIAM WOOD, AND ALL PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
COUNTY OF MONROE, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa, United States District Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Siragusa, J. Plaintiffs brought this action claiming that defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended, 29 U.S. Code § 201, et seq., by improperly classifying their computer networking administrator jobs as exempt from time-and-a-half overtime pay. The case is now before the Court on defendant's motion (docket #12) for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies defendant's application.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

The standard for granting summary judgment is well established. Summary judgment may not be granted unless "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A party seeking summary judgment bears the burden of establishing that no genuine issue of material fact exists. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157 (1970). "[T]he movant must make a prima facie showing that the standard for obtaining summary judgment has been satisfied." 11 MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE, § 56.11[1][a] (Matthew Bender 3d ed.). That is, the burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the evidence creates no genuine issue of material fact. See Amaker v. Foley, 274 F.3d 677 (2d Cir. 2001); Chipollini v. Spencer Gifts, Inc., 814 F.2d 893 (3d Cir. 1987) (en banc). Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its burden by showing the evidentiary materials of record, if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986).

Once that burden has been met, the burden then shifts to the non-moving party to demonstrate that, as to a material fact, a genuine issue exists. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). A fact is "material" only if the fact has some affect on the outcome of the suit. Catanzaro v. Weiden, 140 F.3d 91, 93 (2d Cir. 1998). A dispute regarding a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. In determining whether a genuine issue exists as to a material fact, the court must view underlying facts contained in affidavits, attached exhibits, and depositions in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. U.S. v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962). Moreover, the court must draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all ambiguities in favor of the non-moving party. Leon v. Murphy, 988 F.2d 303, 308 (2d Cir. 1993); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49; Doe v. Dep't of Pub. Safety ex rel. Lee, 271 F.3d 38, 47 (2d Cir. 2001); International Raw Materials, Ltd. v. Stauffer Chemical Co., 898 F.2d 946 (3d Cir. 1990). However, a summary judgment motion will not be defeated on the basis of conjecture or surmise or merely upon a "metaphysical doubt" concerning the facts. Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)); Knight v. United States Fire Ins. Co., 804 F.2d 9 (2d Cir. 1986). Rather, evidentiary proof in admissible form is required. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(e). Furthermore, the party opposing summary judgment "may not create an issue of fact by submitting an affidavit in opposition to a summary judgment motion that, by omission or addition, contradicts the affiant's previous deposition testimony." Hayes v. New York City, Department of Corrections, 84 F.3d 614, 619 (2d Cir. 1996).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Michael Burke ("Burke"), Stevens Moyer ("Moyer") and William Wood ("Wood") are employees of the County of Monroe, Department of Information Services. Moyer and Wood worked a 40-hour workweek and Burke's work week was 35 hours. Each has been compensated for overtime worked in excess of 40 hours per week, either by regular hourly pay or compensatory time, since defendant has classified each of their jobs as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Plaintiffs commenced this suit on June 4, 2001, covering the period from June 4, 1999*fn1 to the present.

In December 2000, defendant reclassified plaintiffs' positions by changing their job titles, although each one's duties remained substantially the same, as did their exempt status.

A. Stevens Moyer

Moyer's title was changed from "Network Administrator" to "Network Administrator I"; however, his weekly salary remained the same. In addition to Network Administrator I, there are also the positions of Network Administrator II and III, with I being the highest. As a Network Administrator I, Moyer's duties included: administering, maintaining, installing and operating computer networks, file servers, and operating systems; maintaining security, backup, and systems interconnectivity; analyzing hardware and software network problems; coordinating workshops; performing network-related problem solving for the help desk; advising the Microcomputer Systems Support Team on the configuration of computers to be added to the network; occasionally researching and evaluating new products; and troubleshooting by locating the source of a problem using information such as the type of problem, checklists, manuals, vendor information, and prior problems. Network Administrator I job description (attached as Exhibit H to Defendant's Exhibits Submitted in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment).

At his deposition, Moyer clarified that his duties consisted primarily of operating computer software. For example, he stated that administering servers meant that he added new printers to Novell servers using the built-in software to type data into the operating system's database, allowing the new printers to communicate with the file server, thereby permitting computer users access to print on them. He also stated that administering included adding new users by utilizing the Novell software utility for that purpose. Additionally, he stated that another of his duties was installing and maintaining the Novell software. This consisted of putting the compact disc ("CD") in the machine and copying the operating system onto the server's hard drive. Maintaining, he stated, meant installing the latest updates to the software, including service patches. Another of his duties, he said, was to advise the micro computer group about how to configure new computers for use on the network. He accomplished this by consulting Novell manuals and finding the optimum settings. Additionally, he said he researched new products, sometimes even testing them, and made recommendations as to whether they should be adopted. In describing the process of troubleshooting, Moyer testified,

to troubleshoot a problem is basically to identify where a problem is and what is causing the problem. That may involve a number of procedures. A lot of them have to do with just knowing and understanding how the hardware works, how the operating system works, how the two of them work together and going through and identifying-how can I phrase this? You start at one end of the problem almost like a flow chart. Go through step by step until all of a sudden things stop working. Now you've identified where the problem is.

Moyer dep. at 53.

B. William Wood

Wood's current position is titled as "Network Administrator II," and was formerly titled "Assistant Network Administrator." The Network Administrator II job description provided by defendant contains the following description of typical work activities (along with a caveat that all need not be performed and other may be performed, though not listed):

Analyzes and takes corrective action of computers and data communications hardware and software network problems;
Demonstrates and trains users in the operation and maintenance of computer hardware and software;
Monitors the security and efficiency of computer systems and takes corrective action when necessary;

Configures department work stations and networks;

Tests new computer hardware and software.

Network Administrator II job description (attached as Exhibit J to Defendant's Exhibits Submitted in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment).

Wood testified during a pretrial deposition that his job included the following distinguishing features: it is the second-highest position in the Network Administrator hierarchy; it involves maintaining and operating a computer network system analyzing hardware and software problems, conducting workshops, and configuring work stations. Unlike the next lower position, Wood's position imposes responsibility for independently administering systems, including problem resolution, and generally performing assignments with a higher consequence of error. He declared that he maintains, troubleshoots and repairs personal computers and the computer network at the defendant's 911 Center, which, he said, involves analyzing and taking corrective action on computer and data communications, and hardware and software network problems. In addition, he stated that he occasionally shows users how to operate the computers. He also said that he troubleshoots network connections and tests computer hardware and software. He also maintains the computer-aided dispatch ("CAD") system at the 911 Center and at 103 remote locations. He testified that the CAD system is a very specialized database and that he troubleshoots that system to insure it is running properly and he fixes anything that is wrong with it. In addition, he testified that he has performed what he terms as "rudimentary data extraction" from files for different agencies.

At his pretrial deposition, Wood was asked about the various duties involved in the job description of his current position, Network Administrator II. When asked to describe what was meant by, "analyzes and takes corrective action of computers and data communications hardware and software network problems," Wood testified,

As problems arise, be it either on a PC or on the network, it is to figure out what is going wrong and either fix it myself or contact whoever can fix it. . . . The most common complaint we [have] here is CAD down. Now there's a wide range of things that can happen for CAD to go down. It can be their communication line going from their computer to CAD isn't working. It could be their computer isn't working at all. It could be that the CAD system is down and a number of other minor things in between, but it's just a matter of just getting them to be a lot more specific with what the problem is. . . . If the communication line is down can I just type the command to bring it up. If the PC isn't working at all or the PC isn't working is there power getting to it. Is it just that the screen isn't working and needs a new monitor. If the computer comes up, then they sign on okay. So depending on exactly what the problem is there's a different routes [sic.] each time.

Wood dep. at 30-31. Wood also testified about how he went about resolving problems when there was more than one way to solve them:

Usually the more common first. For example, if the computer isn't getting power or the computer won't boot up, it could be there's not power getting to the computer or it could be that the power supply is dead. The more common is that it's not plugged in or the cord needs to be jiggled. Once that doesn't work, well let's try a different plug, try another computer in there. If that works okay, the power supply is dead. It's a process of elimination. . . . Generally, if there's nothing we can directly do about it we have to contact the outside vendor for it. For the CAD system or for the PC's [sic.] we have to replace the PC and contact the outside service provider for repair.

Wood dep. at 32. Wood described another type of typical computer problem,

Most common one is that the PC can't get to one certain application that runs on the server called Hane's Crisscross and a problem usually is that the drive isn't mapped where it's just not seeing the C.D. ROM. . . . [To fix the problem,] I recreate the connection. . . . I go over to the computer, click on Explorer and recreate the drive mapping. . . . I have to go in and go into a list of all the computers, pick up the server, double-click on it and it brings up a list of all the different folders inside that are able to be accessed. I click on the one for the Hane's program and there's an option I can chose [sic.] called map network drive. By doing that it reestablishes the link.

Wood dep. at 33. Wood testified that another of his job duties requires that he "coordinates and conducts computer workshops for users to provide up to date information and support." Wood dep. at 34. When asked to describe what he did for this particular duty, Wood stated,

What I do is generally it's more a matter of like hey how do you do this. How do you run this command or where can I find this. Just certain information. Like for example we have a database inside the system called the info. file with tons of information like on calls for different town highway departments, mile markers on the expressway, pointing them in the right direction. Go into the info. file into this section.

Wood dep. at 34-35. He indicated that this was informal one-on-one training and did not take place in a classroom. When asked about the job duty of, "demonstrates and trains users in the operation and maintenance of computer hardware and software," he replied that this also was any informal, one-on-one training.

Wood explained another duty, "monitors the security and efficiency of computer systems and takes corrective action when necessary." Wood dep. at 35. He testified this meant that,

When new users come into the building into the network to create them and give them access to only what they need. For the most part it's their email and making sure the nothing gets changed or if someone needs access to another area that they have the proper permission to be there. On the efficiency it's to make sure everything is running and responses are getting received within an appropriate amount of time. . . . The efficiency issue would be for example dispatcher is trying to look at a call coming in, the telecommunicator just put in and it's taking 20 seconds to call it up onto the screen when it should be instantaneous or that someone is trying to read their email and it's taking five minutes to download all the new messages.

Wood aff. at 36-37. Wood further stated, since all computers are leased, when a computer was not working at all, he would be required to contact the leasing agency for service. Moreover, he testified that to correct the ...


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