United States District Court, D. Connecticut
LAUREN E. MARSTELLER, AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Plaintiff,
BUTTERFIELD 8 STAMFORD LLC, BUTTERFIELD 8 WP LLC, PUBLIC HOUSE INVESTMENTS LLC, LOLAS STAMFORD LLC, JOHN GAZZOLA, RALPH BATTISTA, JR., DOUGLAS NEWHOOK, AND RYAN SLAVIN, Defendants.
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
W. Thompson United States District Judge.
plaintiff, Lauren E. Marsteller (“Marsteller”),
brings this action against Butterfield 8 Stamford (“BU
8 Stamford”), Butterfield 8 WP LLC (“BU 8
WP”), Public House Investments LLC (“PHI”),
Lolas Stamford LLC (“Lolas Stamford”), John
Gazzola (“Gazzola”), Ralph Battista, Jr.
(“Battista”), Douglas Newhook
(“Newhook”), and Ryan Slavin
(“Slavin”), asserting claims for a hostile work
environment, for sexual harassment and for retaliation,
pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as
amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. (“Title
VII”), and Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 31-290 and
46a-60 et seq.. She also brings claims for unpaid overtime
pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., and Conn.
Gen. Stat. §§ 31-60(a) and 31-76(b), for
intentional infliction of emotional distress, and for
unreasonable intrusion on the seclusion of another.
Defendants BU 8 WP, PHI and Battista have moved for summary
judgment as to all claims in the plaintiff's First
Amended Complaint against them. For the reasons set forth
below, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is
being granted as to BU 8 WP and Battista and denied as to
Lauren E. Marsteller was at the time of the events relevant
to this action employed by BU 8 Stamford. The plaintiff
contends that she was hired by BU 8 Stamford but worked for
both BU 8 Stamford and Lolas Stamford. Her business card had
on it the names of both restaurants. Many employees worked
for both BU 8 Stamford and Lolas Stamford.
about May 2012, the plaintiff started to work for BU 8
Stamford and Lolas Stamford. Gazzola hired the plaintiff, and
Newhook met with the plaintiff and Gazzola at the time she
was hired. The plaintiff's direct supervisors were
Newhook, the general manager of BU 8 Stamford and Lolas
Stamford, and Slavin, the assistant manager of BU 8 Stamford.
Newhook had the primary day-to-day control over the
plaintiff's work schedule. Newhook and Gazzola
communicated her normal start and end times. On or about
October 20, 2012, the plaintiff's employment was
summarily terminated by Newhook.
BU 8 WP
did not open for business until after the plaintiff's
employment with BU 8 Stamford and Lolas Stamford was
terminated. Gazzola testified that BU 8 WP was not operating
until the end of 2012 even though the LLC was formed prior to
that. Battista, the general manager of BU 8 WP, testified
that BU 8 WP was opened in September 2013. The plaintiff
stated that she believes that during her employment she sent
the credit card batch to BU 8 WP, but she was not sure. The
plaintiff was never directly employed by BU 8 WP.
might have met the plaintiff one time in passing while the
plaintiff was employed at ¶ 8 Stamford. Battista did not
hire or fire the plaintiff.
defendants contend that BU8 WP, BU8 Stamford and Lolas
Stamford each maintain a separate corporate identity. Gazzola
testified that he is the sole owner of BU 8 Stamford and
Lolas Stamford and provided relevant tax forms. PHI was
listed as the applicant and apparent owner of the trademark
logo “Lola's Mexican Kitchen, ” under which
Lolas Stamford operated its business. Pl.'s R. 56(a)2
Statement, Ex. A (“Doc. No. 67-1”) at 104-05 of
133. The plaintiff was provided with a PHI domain email
account. During the relevant time period, employees at the
manager level at ¶ 8 WP, BU 8 Stamford and Lolas
Stamford would have been provided with PHI domain e-mail
accounts. The plaintiff testified that she had seen several
owners of BU 8 Stamford gather frequently and checks would be
handed out to the individual owners.
only employee handbook produced by the defendants set forth
the policies and practices of Butterfield 8 WP &
Lola's Mexican Kitchen, LLC for the year 2013. But the
handbook also applied to BU 8 Stamford. Newhook testified
that the handbook would be “updated with a new year
each year.” Pl.'s R. 56(a)2 Statement, Ex. C (Doc.
No. 67-3) at 13 of 21, ll. 6-7. Slavin testified that the
handbook for 2012 did not include BU 8 WP.
defendants contend that Brian Harrington is the sole member
and sole owner of PHI and that Gazzola had no ownership
interest in PHI. Gazzola received $5, 000 weekly from PHI.
Gazzola testified that it was “paid through a
management fee from [his] individual source and processed
through payroll for purposes of health benefits.” Doc.
No. 67-1 at 62 of 133, ll. 17-20. According to Gazzola's
LinkedIn profile on May 8, 2014, Gazzola had been a principal
of PHI for a period of 8 years and 9 months. Gazzola contends
that the information was not accurate and that he is not a
member of PHI. Gazzola admits that he was aware of some
publications that had characterized him as an owner of PHI,
and that he did not take steps to correct them.
was the executive chef of BU 8 Stamford when it was opened in
May of 2009. He became the general manager of BU 8 Stamford
in January of 2010. Battista worked for PHI in 2012 while he
was a general manager of BU 8 Stamford. He left BU 8 Stamford
in January 2012 and started working at Mulberry Street,
another of Gazzola's restaurants for which PHI provided
management support. During his time at Mulberry Street,
Battista worked for PHI and not Mulberry Street. Battista
received checks from PHI. Gazzola was Battista's boss and
had the authority to award him performance bonuses, and
Battista did not know who Gazzola worked for. Battista
testified that both Harrington from PHI and Gazzola were his
bosses, and had the authority to hire and fire him. Battista
was transferred by Gazzola from Mulberry Street to BU 8 WP in
September 2013. Battista testified that he was employed by
PHI while serving as the general manager of BU 8 WP.
According to Battista, there were employees of PHI who worked
at multiple locations, including himself and Newhook. Newhook
worked as the manager of BU 8 Stamford in 2009, and was
transferred to Butterfield 8 New York City in 2010. He then
moved back to Lolas Stamford at the end of 2010. He served as
general manager for both BU 8 Stamford and Lolas Stamford
from 2011 to 2013. Newhook testified that he had been working
with Gazzola since 2008. The defendants contend that
“PHI was formed to provide administrative and
promotional advice to restaurants and to create a corporate
entity which could obtain cost-effective group health
insurance and other benefits to the owners of restaurants it
serves” and PHI also provides accounting and payroll
services to BU 8 WP, BU 8 Stamford and Lolas Stamford.
Defs.' Mem Supp. of Summ. J. (Doc. No. 59) at 7. The
defendants further state that “PHI's function with
respect to these defendants is purely ministerial.”
plaintiff disputes that the function of PHI is purely
ministerial. Battista testified that PHI was a management
company of the restaurants and provided additional support
including “payroll, cost control [and] help
scheduling.” Pl.'s R. 56(a)2 Statement, Ex. B (Doc.
No. 67-2) at 13 of 28, ll. 2-3. As a manager, Battista
“would enter the payroll into the system taking the
information from the point of sale and entering it into the
payroll to make sure it was accurate.” Id. at
ll. 18-22. Battista also testified that “payroll
encompasses a lot of things. It encompasses entering payroll
into the system, and payroll also covers scheduling of
employees and things like that.” Id. at 18-19
of 28, ll. 24-4. In Battista's LinkedIn profile on May 8,
2014, Battista held himself out as having been the regional
manager of PHI from June 2011 to June 2013, and stated that
he hired and trained “management teams of each concept,
” managed all preopening activities and maintained
quality controls. Pl.'s R. 56(a)2 Statement, Ex. H (Doc.
No. 67-8) at 2 of 3. The restaurants under his supervision
included BU 8 WP, Mulberry Street and Lola's Mexican
Kitchen White Plains.
testified that he, Gazzola and Battista received human
resources training together at a “summit” in
Philadelphia including training on hiring and termination, in
either late 2012 or early 2013. On PHI's LinkedIn
business profile, PHI indicated that it changed its name to
Table 95 Hospitality, but PHI's name remained
“Public House Investments, LLC” as of December
motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the
court determines that there is no genuine issue of material
fact to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no
such issue warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter
of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Gallo v.
Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d
Cir. 1994). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the
court may not try issues of fact, but must leave those issues
to the jury. See, e.g., Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Donahue v. Windsor
Locks Bd. of Fire Comm'rs, 834 F.2d 54, 58 (2d Cir.
1987). Thus, the trial court's task is “carefully
limited to discerning whether there are any genuine issues of
material fact to be tried, not to deciding them. Its duty, in
short, is confined . . . to issue-finding; it does not extend
to issue-resolution.” Gallo, 22 F.3d at 1224.
judgment is inappropriate only if the issue to be resolved is
both genuine and related to a material fact. Therefore, the
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the
parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion for summary judgment. An issue 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 (internal quotation marks omitted). A material fact is
one that would “affect the outcome of the suit under
the governing law.” Id. Only those facts that
must be decided in order to resolve a claim or defense will
prevent summary judgment from being granted. Immaterial or
minor facts will not prevent summary judgment. See Howard
v. Gleason Corp., 901 F.2d 1154, 1159 (2d Cir. 1990).
reviewing the evidence on a motion for summary judgment, the
court must “‘assess the record in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and . . . draw all reasonable
inferences in [the non-movant's] favor.'”
Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d 33, 41 (2d
Cir. 2000) (quoting Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co. v.
Consolidated Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174, 177 (2d Cir.
1990)). However, the inferences drawn in favor of the
nonmovant must be supported by evidence. “‘[M]ere
speculation and conjecture'” is insufficient to
defeat a motion for summary judgment. Stern v. Trustees
of Columbia Univ., 131 F.3d 305, 315 (2d Cir. 1997)
(quoting Western World Ins. Co. v. Stack Oil, Inc.,
922 F.2d 118, 121 (2d. Cir. 1990)). Moreover, the “mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
[nonmovant's] position” will be insufficient; there
must be evidence on which a jury could “reasonably
find” for the nonmovant. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
defendants move for summary judgment on the grounds that
there is no genuine issue that Battista, BU 8 WP and PHI
neither were joint employers of the plaintiff, nor part of a
single integrated enterprise that employed her.
Single Integrated Enterprise Theory
single employer situation exists where two nominally separate
entities are actually part of a single integrated enterprise
so that, for all purposes, there is in fact only a single
employer.” Clinton's Ditch Co-op Co. v.
N.L.R.B.,778 F.2d 132, 137 (2d Cir. 1985) (quoting
N.L.R.B. v. Browning-Ferris Indus. of Pennsylvania,
Inc.,691 F.2d 1117, 1122 (3d Cir. 1982)) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The single employer doctrine
applies in the civil rights context. See Murray v.
Miner,74 F.3d 402, 404 (2d Cir. 1996). “[F]our
factors determine whether two entities will be regarded as a
single employer subject to joint liability for
employment-related acts. They are: (1) interrelated
operations, (2) common management, (3) centralized control of
labor relations, and (4) common ownership.”
Id. (citing Radio & Television Broad.
Technicians Local Union 1264 v. Broad. Serv. of Mobile,380 U.S. 255, 256 (1965)). Courts have applied the
four-factor test for FLSA purposes. See Yap v. Mooncake
Foods, Inc.,146 F.Supp.3d 552, 558 ...