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Wright v. Monroe County

May 10, 2007

THEODORE WRIGHT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MONROE COUNTY, NEW YORK, AND MONROE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Theodore Wright ("Wright") brings this action pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") against defendants Monroe County New York ("Monroe County") and the Monroe County Sheriff's Department ("the Sheriff's Department") claiming that he was not properly paid for overtime hours he worked. Specifically, plaintiff, who is employed as a Captain in the Sheriff's Department, claims that the defendants have improperly classified him as an exempt employee not entitled to overtime under the FLSA, and that because of this mis-classification, he has not been compensated for his overtime hours.

By motion dated October 2, 2006, the defendants move for summary judgment on grounds that the plaintiff is properly classified as an exempt employee, and therefore he is not entitled to overtime compensation under the FLSA. For the reasons set forth below, I grant defendants' motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Theodore Wright has been employed by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department for more than 26 years. From March, 2002 through November, 2004, Wright served as the Captain of the Criminal Investigations Section ("CIS") of the Sheriff's Department. As Captain of the CIS, Wright held supervisory responsibility over the entire CIS unit which included a Lieutenant, six Sergeants, thirteen Investigators, and six Deputies. Wright was the highest ranking official in the unit. As Captain, Wright, inter alia, provided general supervision to his subordinates, evaluated his immediate subordinates, and handled minor personnel issues.

Wright was paid by the Sheriff's Department on a salary basis, and earned over $76,000 per year as Captain of the CIS. His regular hours were from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a one-hour lunch, and Wright did not have flexibility to change these hours. Like the other members of his unit, Wright's time was monitored with a time clock. Wright was also expected to appear at certain crime scenes after hours, and was expected to attend certain news conferences or handle some press-relations responsibilities. As a result, Wright often worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Wright contends that under the FLSA, he is entitled to overtime compensation for overtime hours worked.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if 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 judgment as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgment, all inferences and ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. R.B. Ventures, Ltd. v. Shane, 112 F.3d 54 (2nd Cir. 1997). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of summary judgment is appropriate. Annis v. County of Westchester, 136 F.3d 239, 247 (2nd Cir. 1998).

II. FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act provides in relevant part that subject to certain enumerated exemptions, those employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to compensation at a rate of one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay. 29 U.S.C. § 207. The FLSA, however, exempts from overtime-pay requirements employees who are "employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity . . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 213.

Where an employee who is not receiving overtime compensation contends that he is entitled to such compensation under the FLSA, it is incumbent upon the employer to establish by clear and convincing evidence that one of the FLSA's exemptions to the overtime requirements applies, and therefore the employee is not entitled to overtime pay. Idaho Sheet Metal Works, Inc. v. Wirtz, 383 U.S. 190 (1966); Shockley v. City of Newport News, 997 F.2d 18, (4th Cir. 1993). In doing so, the employer must establish that the employee "fit[s] plainly and unmistakably within [the exemption's] terms." McGrath v. City of Philadelphia, 864 F.Supp. 466, 483-84 (E.D. Pa. 1994)(quoting Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, Inc., 361 U.S. 388, 392 (U.S. 1960).

To establish whether an employee is an administrative or executive employee, courts employ a two-part test devised by the Secretary of Labor. Barner v. City of Novato, 17 F.3d 1256, 1259-1260 (9th Cir. 1994). Pursuant to regulations in place from May, 2002 to November, 2004 (the period during which Wright served as CIS Captain) the first component of the two-part test is the "duties test" whereby a court determines whether or not the duties performed by the employee are duties typically performed by a bona fide executive or administrative employee. 29 C.F.R. § 541.1 (for executive employees); 29 C.F.R. § 541.2 (for administrative employees). The second component is the "salary test" whereby the court determines whether or not the employee is paid on a salary basis. 29 C.F.R. § 541.1(f) (for executive employees); 541.2(e) (for administrative employees).

A. The "Duties" Test

To determine whether or not an employee is an "executive employee" under the duties test, the ...


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