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Chen v. Mg Wholesale Distribution Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

November 14, 2017

YU SEN CHEN, individually and on behalf of all employees similarly situated, Plaintiffs,


          PAMELA K. CHEN, United States District Judge [*]

         Plaintiff Yu Sen Chen brings this action against Defendants MG Wholesale Distribution Inc., Andy Cheung, [1] and Xiao Min Yang for alleged violations of federal minimum wage laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) as well as alleged violations of New York Labor Law. Before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted. The Court also declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining state law claims.


         A. Undisputed Facts[2]

         Plaintiff was hired by MG Wholesale-then known as WS Distribution (Cheung Dep. at 19:14-25)[3]-in or around June 1996 as a truck loader and driver's helper. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt., Dkt. 54, at ¶ 3.) MG Wholesale is a restaurant supply wholesale business located in Maspeth, New York and is owned by Defendants Cheung and Yang. (Id. at ¶¶ 1-2; Yu Sen Chen Deposition (“Chen Dep.”), Dkt. 53-3, at 14:25-15:21.) Three days each week, MG Wholesale opens at 6:30 a.m. and three days a week it opens at 7:00 a.m. (Cheung Dep. at 25:2.)

         Plaintiff stopped working at MG Wholesale on or around August 4, 2016. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. at ¶ 4.) The Parties also agree that Plaintiff worked six days per week, although they sharply disagree about the number of hours he worked. (Id. at ¶ 5.) One of Plaintiff's responsibilities was to open the factory each morning. (Cheung Dep. at 25:3-4.) Per Defendants' policies, Plaintiff was required to, and did, clock-in at the beginning of each work day and clock-out at the end of each workday using a finger scanner. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. at ¶¶ 8-10.) Defendant Yang could, however, manually change the records, and she did so on occasion. (Xiao Min Yang Deposition II (“Yang Dep. II”), Dkt. 53-5, at 10:5-11.)

         Chen was paid biweekly in cash, with a weekly salary between $588.46 and $600. (Plaintiff's Brief (“Pl.'s Br.”), Dkt. 56, at 4.) Plaintiff signed wage statements and time sheets on each payday (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp., at ¶¶ 13-14), but he never read them (Chen Dep. at 58:9-12; 59:9-12; 91:12-23). Although he now disputes the accuracy of the pay and time records, Plaintiff never complained contemporaneously that they were inaccurate (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. at ¶ 15; Chen Dep. at 90:12-20) and he did not keep independent records of his hours (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. at ¶ 11). He also acknowledges that Defendants' wage and hour records are “facially adequate”. (Pl.'s Br. at 6.)

         B. Purported Extra Work by Plaintiff

         The crux of the dispute between the parties is the number of hours of work Plaintiff was compensated for each week. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he worked 78 to 84 hours per week from June 1996 to December 2014 and 72 to 81 hours per week from January 2015 to August 3, 2016. (Complaint, Dkt. 1, at ¶¶ 20-21.) In his opposition to summary judgment, Plaintiff states that he worked between 72 and 96 hours each week. (Pl.'s Br. at 5-6.) During his deposition, he contended that he worked “for about twelve hours a day” (Chen Dep. at 20:2-3) or “about ten or twelve hours a day” six days per week (id. at 96:7-16). And, finally, in his Response to Defendants' 56.1 Statement, Plaintiff claims that he worked “between 66 and 84 hours per week, and sometimes more.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. at ¶ 6.) Plaintiff alleges that “no matter how early [he] clock[ed]-in, how late [he] clock[ed]-in, [he would] get the same amount for [his] salary” (Chen Dep. at 48:8-10), and that “his hours were so high that his average hourly rate fell below [FLSA's] statutory minimum” (Pl.'s Br. at 2).

         By contrast, Defendants argue that Plaintiff was promised a minimum weekly salary of $588.46 (Yang Dep. II at 27:9-16) and that his weekly compensation was the greater of $588.46 or the sum of: (1) an hourly rate for the first 40 hours worked; (2) overtime in the amount of one and a half times his hourly rate; and (3) a “bonus hour” at his hourly rate for each day that he worked more than 10 hours in a day as recorded by the finger scanner (Xiao Min Yang Deposition I (“Yang Dep. I”), Dkt. 53-4, at 33:11-34:14; Yang Dep. II at 23:10-17). Defendants submitted wage statements and time sheets that they allege demonstrate that Plaintiff was properly and adequately compensated based on the hours recorded by the finger scanner system. (See Dkts. 53-8 and 53-9.) Plaintiff does not dispute that these records are “facially adequate”. (Pl.'s Br. at 6.)

         In response to the wage and hour records, Plaintiff argues that Defendant Yang manually “fixed the time” recorded by the finger scanner to artificially lower Plaintiff's hours. (Chen Dep. at 78:6-8; see also Id. at 85:18-20.) Furthermore, Plaintiff contends that although his signature (or what appears to be his signature) is on each page of his wage statements and time sheets, these records have been altered since he signed them or, alternatively, he never signed the records and someone forged his signature. (Compare Chen Dep. at 24:10-11 (“I signed the document, but . . . I have no knowledge of the content.”); id. at 24:22-24 (“I can identify my signature. Other than that, I don't have no [sic] knowledge of the contents.”); id. at 25:12-19; 26:16-20; 27:15-21; 28:19-25, 30:17-19; 33:7-18; 34:2-8; 60:14-16, with Id. at 25:24-25 (“I can swear to you that I have not seen those before and I did not sign those either.”); id. at 29:25-30:2 (“My gut feeling tells me that I never signed on any piece of paper with this content.”); id. at 108:21-23 (“Q: So none of the signatures that appear on any of the pages . . . are yours? A: That's right.”); id. at 28:16-18; 29:5-10; 30:6-8; 37:3-5; 38:19-39:2; 39:20-21; 40:5-8; 41:16-18; 61:2-5; 62:12-14; 68:22-24; 72:17-21; 77:6-7.)

         C. Procedural History

         Plaintiff commenced this action on August 9, 2016. (Dkt. 1.) On November 16, 2016, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed Counts Three and Four of the Complaint. (Dkt. 26.)[4] After the close of discovery, the parties appeared for a pre-motion conference concerning Defendants' request to file a motion for summary judgment on the remaining federal claim. With the Court's leave, on July 17, 2017, Defendants filed the present motion for partial summary judgment. (Dkt. 51.)

         LEGAL ...

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