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Locke v. Augustine's Episcopal Church

March 3, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Azrack, United States Magistrate Judge


On August 3, 2007, Kenneth Locke ("plaintiff" or "Locke") sued St. Augustine's Episcopal Church ("St. Augustine's") and the Reverend Canon Howard K. Williams ("Rev. Williams") (collectively, "defendants") pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201--219 (the "FLSA"), and New York Labor Law §§ 190, 650 (2007, 2004) (the "NYLL") for unpaid minimum wages, overtime compensation, and "spread of hours" pay, as well as an additional equal amount in liquidated damages. (Dkt. No. 1.) On March 12, 2009, the parties consented to my jurisdiction for all purposes pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 636. (Dkt. No. 26.)

By motion dated December 15, 2009, defendants filed for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). (Dkt. No. 35.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendants' motion. Specifically, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action because the FLSA does not cover St. Augustine's as an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce or Locke as an individual employee engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims and dismisses these claims without prejudice.


The Episcopal Church of the United States (the "Episcopal Church") oversees 111 geographic areas, known as dioceses. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 4; Aff. of Chancellor Robert Fardella, St. James Church, Elmhurst v. Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, et al., No. 22564/05 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Apr. 29, 2008) ("St. James Church, Elmhurst") ("Pl. Ex. C") ¶ 6; Aff. of Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright, St. James Church, Elmhurst ("Pl. Ex. F") ¶ 6.) The dioceses oversee 7,600 worshipping congregations, known as parishes. (Pl. Ex. F ¶ 6.) The parishes serve 2.5 million congregants. (Id.) As a function of the hierarchical structure of the Episcopal Church, parishes are bound by church canons, cannot take action in conflict with the decisions of the dioceses or Episcopal Church, and cannot unilaterally disaffiliate from either. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 5; Pl. Ex. C ¶ 4b; Aff. of Dr. Robert Bruce Mullin, St. James Church, Elmhurst("Pl. Ex. E") ¶¶ 6--9, 35.) Parishes receive contributions from congregants and remit some of this income to the dioceses, and the dioceses contribute some income to the Episcopal Church. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl. Ex. E ¶ 33.) The clergy of each parish may then receive the sacraments, baptize, educate, marry, and bury congregants, and lead regular worship. (Pl. Ex. E ¶ 33) Parishes also receive property, insurance, access to the Church Pension system, and funding beyond what congregants provide.

(Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 3, 7; Order for St. James Church, Elmhurst ("Pl. Ex. B") at 3; Pl. Exs. E ¶ 34, F ¶¶ 5, 26--36, 46.)

The Diocese of Long Island, New York ("the Diocese") is a diocese of the Episcopal Church. (Pl. Ex. C ¶ 10.) The Diocese maintains an Investment Fund and Medical Trust that provides pension and health benefits to clergy and employees. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 9, 16; Pl. Exs. D ¶ 3e, I.) The Diocese manages the payroll procedures of the parishes. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 67--68; Pl. Ex. J; Rev. Williams Dep. 26:13--27:6.) The Diocese issues a monthly newsletter, The Dominion, News of the Diocese of Long Island ("The Dominion"), to publicize fundraising efforts by the parishes, advice about fundraising, opportunities and accomplishments in philanthropy, notices and reviews of national and international conventions, community meetings, and youth events, opinion articles regarding ecclesiastic matters, messages from the Bishop, news and pictures of parishes, clergy, and, congregants, obituaries, and help-wanted advertisements. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 10--15, 17--66; Pl. Exs. G--DD, GG.)

St. Augustine's is a parish of the Diocese. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 1; Rev. Williams Dep. 21:20--22:3.) St. Augustine's owns four buildings on Avenue D in Brooklyn, New York. (Answer ¶¶ 6--7; Rev. Williams Dep. 31:3--7.) 4301 Avenue D houses the church and Noel Hall, a space for events. (Answer ¶ 7; Rev. Williams Dep. 31:3--33:1, 44:11--15.) 4313 Avenue D houses a two-bedroom apartment, offices, a choir room, and a reception area ("the Annex Bldg."). (Answer ¶ 7; Rev. Williams Dep. 31:8--19.) 4314 Avenue D houses a Sunday school on the upper floor and a rental commercial space on the ground floor. (Rev. Williams Dep. 31:3--33:1.) An insurance company rented the ground floor space during some period after 1999. (Rev. Williams Dep. 31:18--33:1.) 4315 Avenue D houses a space for events ("the Patterson Bldg."). (Answer ¶ 7; Rev. Williams Dep. 31:3--33:1.)

St. Augustine's rents Noel Hall and the Patterson Bldg. for events, such as baptisms, bridal showers, memorial services, Election Day polling, and visits by state-run Elderplan, on any day of the week except Sunday. (Rev. Williams Dep. 37:17--39:10; 49:12--17, 80:12--22; Defs.' Ex. 12.) St. Augustine's charges $350 for funerals, $300 for memorial services, $210 per day to the Board of Elections, $200 for weddings, and $75 for baptisms. (Defs.' Ex. 12.) Events generally begin as early as two in the afternoon and end as late as two in the morning. (Locke Dep. 173:14--12; Rev. Williams Dep. 39:11--23.)

Rev. Lloyd Henry ("Rev. Henry") served as Rector of St. Augustine's until 1999. (Rev. Williams Dep. 23:8--15.) In 1982, Rev. Henry hired Locke to clean the church. (Compl. ¶ 12; Locke Dep. 17:8--19, 33:20--24; Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 4; Rev. Williams Dep. 23:8--15, 30:21--31:2.) Locke became the sole custodian and caretaker of St. Augustine's. (Answer ¶ 14; Locke Dep. 33:20--24.) Locke worked seven days a week. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 71; Locke Dep. 35:4--36:25.) On Sundays, Locke worked from seven in the morning until services ended and he cleaned the church. (Locke Dep. 37:25--42:3.) On all other days, Locke worked from eight in the morning until five in the evening, though he often cleaned the church after evening services. (Id. at 42:4--20, 47:3--20.) Locke's custodial duties included sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming the buildings and bathrooms, removing garbage, flushing the air conditioner, maintaining the boiler, and clearing the sidewalks of trash, leaves, and snow. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 72--75; Locke Dep. 55:4--68:21, 130:6--132:21; Rev. Williams Dep. 44:21--45:16, 46:3--5.) Locke was on-call at all hours if a problem arose with the electricity, plumbing, air conditioner, or boiler. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 81; Locke Dep. 78:24--79:24.) When Rev. Williams joined St. Augustine's in 1999, he increased the hours Locke worked by requiring him to turn off the building's alarm at seven every morning and turn on the alarm after church functions concluded every evening. (Locke Dep. 52:14--54:19, 77:3--8, 96:12--17; Rev. Williams Dep. 47:1--48:2.)

Locke paid the electrical, plumbing, and oil vendors on behalf of St. Augustine's, purchased cleaning supplies from Murray's Hardware located around the corner, picked-up church vestments and Rev. Williams' personal clothing from the dry-cleaners located across the street, delivered mail to the post office, and folded 800 church bulletins each week or took the bulletins to a local printing shop. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 81--84; Locke Dep. 139:3--21, 176:18-- 188:24, 193:8--202:9; Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 4; Rev. Williams Dep. 56:6--56:18.) St. Augustine's reimbursed Locke by check for these church-related purchases. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 77; Locke Dep. 138:7--139:21; Pl. Ex. RR; Rev. Williams Dep. 63:13--20; Defs.' Ex. 11.)

From 1982 until 2007, Locke lived in the two-bedroom apartment located in the Annex Bldg. (Locke Dep. 22:17--24:2.) Beginning in 1982, Locke earned $70 per week in wages and lived in the apartment rent-free. (Id. at 21:16--17, 22:14--16, 23:25--24:2.) In October 1986, the Finance Committee of St. Augustine's began requiring Locke to pay $250 per month in rent for the apartment. (Id. at 24:3--25; Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 4; Defs.' Ex. 3.) St. Augustine's did not require Locke to pay utilities other than his telephone bill. (Locke Dep. 29:15--18.) In 2000, defendants increased Locke's bi-weekly wage to approximately $519.76. (Locke Dep. 116:11-- 14; Pl. Ex. RR; Defs.' Ex. 11.) In 2002, defendants increased Locke's bi-weekly wage to $625.00; Rev. Williams believed this amount constituted adequate compensation for forty hours of work per week. (Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 4; Rev. Williams Dep. 52:17--53:7.) In addition to his wages, Locke received $50 per event for helping during each event and cleaning afterward. (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 78--79; Locke Dep. 106:19--115:9, 175:10--24; Pl. Ex. RR; Rev. Williams Dep. 40:14--42:18; 49:12--17; Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 4.) Locke received Christmas bonuses, though not every year. (Locke Dep. 132:22--13:12; Rev. Williams Dep. 70:23--71:1.) Defendants paid Locke when he worked during a predetermined vacation time. (Locke Dep. 123:13--124:9; Rev. Williams Dep. 71:13--21.) No one at St. Augustine's recorded the hours Locke worked. (Locke Dep. 34:10--35:3, 128:2--20; Rev. Williams Dep. 29:19--24, 52:17--54:3.) In 2004, defendants paid two additional people, Yvonne and Sanford Jones, to clean the buildings. (Rev. Williams Dep. 96:5--99:4; Defs.' Ex. 11.) Defendants also employ clergy and an administrative staff. (Rev. Williams Dep. 12:16--20:12.)

In September 2005, Locke requested medical leave to undergo surgery and receive treatment. (Compl. ¶ 23; Locke Dep. 144:4--10.) Throughout his convalescence, Locke continued to turn the alarm off and on every day and perform some of his custodial duties, such as shoveling snow and vacuuming the church, and defendants continued to pay Locke. (Locke Dep. 150:5--153:20.) In February 2006, Locke provided defendants with a letter from his doctor stating that Locke could return to work full-time on March 13, 2006. (Compl. ¶ 23.) On February 10, 2006, Rev. Williams and Assisting Priest Eric Stephens met with Locke and terminated his employment because defendants "could no longer afford to wait for Mr. Locke and decided instead to let him go." (Answer ¶ 26; Locke Dep. 158:24--159:8; Def. Summ. J. Mem. at 5.) Defendants offered Locke several severance packages, but Locke rejected them. (Answer ¶ 27; Locke Dep. 159:12--162:21.)

Defendants advertised for an interim custodial engineer who would be "required to work flexible hours for a seven day work week . . . . Responsibilities include the opening and closing of church properties during the week for services, church activities and events. Oversee monthly supply inventory needs for replacement of consumable items. Knowledge of heating and ventilation a plus." (Pl. 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 76; Pl. Ex. PP.) Defendants hired a new custodian who receives a housing stipend of $700 per month. (Rev. Williams Dep. 18:18--24.) Locke remained in the Annex Bldg. apartment from his termination in February 2006 until defendants removed him in February 2007; Locke paid $500 in rent during this period. (Locke Dep. 167:10--170:9; Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 5.) In 2006, defendants valued the apartment at $1,250 per month. (Rev. Williams Dep. 48:10--22.) Locke now lives in a basement apartment at 1464 East 45th Street, Brooklyn, New York. (Locke Dep. 3:13--14.)

On August 3, 2007, Locke sued defendants to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime compensation pursuant to the FLSA, and unpaid minimum wages, overtime compensation, and "spread of hours" pay pursuant to the NYLL, as well as an additional equal amount in liquidated damages pursuant to the FLSA and NYLL. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Locke also complained that defendants failed to maintain adequate written records for hours worked and wages earned in violation of the FLSA and NYLL. (Id.) On December 15, 2009, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the action. (Defs.' Summ. J. Mem. at 3.) Defendants maintain that the FLSA does not cover St. Augustine's as an enterprise or Locke as an individual employee. (Id.)


A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). One of the primary purposes of this Rule "is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotox Corp., 477 U.S. at 323--24. The substantive law of the action determines which facts are material and "only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1988) (internal citations omitted); Konikoff v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 234 F.3d 92, 97 (2d Cir. 2000). "The moving party is 'entitled to a judgment as a matter of law' . . . [where] the nonmoving party has failed to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of . . . [the] case with respect to which . . . [the nonmoving party] has the burden of proof." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323.

"Once a moving party has made an initial showing that no genuine issue of material fact remains, the nonmoving party may not refute this showing solely by means of conclusory allegations, conjecture, and speculation, but must instead present specific evidence in support of its contention that there is a genuine dispute as to material facts." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e); Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. v. Jones Chem., Inc., 315 F.3d 171, 175 (2d Cir. 2003). "A court [will] resolve[] all ambiguities and draw[] all factual inferences in favor of the non-movant, but only if there is a genuine dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); In re Novartis Wage & Hour Litig., 593 F. Supp. 2d 637, 647 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). "The mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the ...

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