United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
A. DOOLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case arises out of the termination of plaintiff Scott Monroe
from his employment as a truck driver for defendant J.H.O.C.,
Inc., d/b/a Premier Transportation (“Premier”).
The operative complaint contains a single claim under the
anti-retaliation provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq.
Premier has moved for summary judgment arguing that Monroe
cannot establish that he engaged in a protected activity
under the FLSA. For the reasons set forth below,
Premier's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
2009, Monroe was hired as a truck driver for Premier.
(Def.'s SMF at ¶ 2.) During the relevant period,
Premier paid truck drivers $0.41 per mile plus additional
compensation amounts, including detention pay. (Id.
at ¶ 4.) Detention pay is compensation for the time a
driver is detained at a customer shop in excess of the
allotted two-hour delivery window. (See Id. at
¶ 5.) Premier paid detention pay at a rate of $5 for
every fifteen minutes of excess detention, and detention pay
comprises “a very small component of a driver's
total compensation.” (Id.) To receive
detention pay, Monroe, like all drivers, was required to: (1)
record his arrival and departure times in the electronic log,
(2) call in and report an interruption of service to the
dispatcher, and (3) submit a completed Unloading Detention
Time form. (Id. at ¶ 7.)
his employment with Premier, Monroe would occasionally notice
discrepancies in his detention pay. (Def.'s Ex. C, Monroe
Depo. at 34, 37.) Sometimes he would ignore the issue if the
discrepancy was very small, e.g., $5. (Id.
at 44-45.) Other times, he would report the missing detention
pay to his dispatcher, and Premier would resolve the issue.
(Id. at 43, 66, 112-113.)
December 2015, Monroe complained to his dispatcher, Daniel
Gardiner, that his detention time had not been recorded
accurately again and, therefore, he was not paid for all of
the detention time that he recently worked. (Def.'s SMF
at ¶¶ 8-11.) Although Monroe cannot recall the
specific dates on which he complained to Gardiner, or whether
he made them over the phone or in person, he recalls making
oral complaints to Gardiner on one to three occasions in
December 2015. (Id. at ¶ 10.) All of his
complaints were something to the effect of, “Hey, I
didn't get paid for my detention time again.”
(Id. at ¶ 12.) Premier subsequently
investigated these complaints and either showed Monroe why
detention pay was not due or paid any amounts due and owing.
(Id. at ¶ 13.)
January 2015, Monroe failed to appear for a random drug and
alcohol test mandated by the United States Department of
Transportation. (Id. at ¶ 17.) Thereafter,
Monroe was terminated from his employment with Premier.
operative complaint, Monroe contends that Premier fired him
in retaliation for his complaints about the discrepancies in
his detention pay, not because of his failure to appear for
the random drug and alcohol test. Premier has moved for
summary judgment arguing that there is no issue of material
fact that Monroe did not engage in protected activity under
the FLSA and Premiere is therefore entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.
standard under which the Court reviews motions for summary
judgment is well-established. “The court shall grant
summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A
fact is “material” if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under governing law, ” while a
dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
the inquiry being conducted by the court when reviewing of a
motion for summary judgment focuses on “whether there
is the need for a trial - whether, in other words, there are
any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only
by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved
in favor of either party.” Id. at 250. As a
result, the moving party satisfies his burden under Rule 56
“by showing . . . that there is an absence of evidence
to support the nonmoving party's case” at trial.
PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105
(2d Cir. 2002) (per curiam) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Once the movant meets his burden, the nonmoving
party must set forth “‘specific facts'
demonstrating that there is ‘a genuine issue for
trial.'” Wright v. Goord, 554 F.3d 255,
266 (2d Cir. 2009) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). “[T]he
party opposing summary judgment may not merely rest on the
allegations or denials of his pleading” to establish
the existence of a disputed fact. Id.; accord
Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888
(1990). “[M]ere speculation or conjecture as to the
true nature of the facts” will not suffice. Hicks
v. Baines, 593 F.3d 159, 166 (2d Cir. 2010) (citations
omitted; internal quotation marks omitted). Nor will wholly
implausible claims or bald assertions that are unsupported by
evidence. See Carey v. Crescenzi, 923 F.2d 18, 21
(2d Cir. 1991); Argus Inc. v. Eastman Kodak Co., 801
F.2d 38, 45 (2d Cir. 1986). “[T]here is no issue for
trial unless there is sufficient evidence favoring the
nonmoving party for a jury to return a verdict for that
party. If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not
significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50
determining whether there exists a genuine dispute as to a
material fact, the Court is “required to resolve all
ambiguities and draw all permissible factual inferences in
favor of the party against whom summary judgment is
sought.” Johnson v. Killian, 680 F.3d 234, 236
(2d Cir. 2012) (quoting Terry v. Ashcroft, 336 F.3d
128, 137 (2d Cir. 2003)). “In deciding a motion for
summary judgment, the district court's function is not to
weigh the evidence or resolve issues of fact; it is confined
to deciding whether a rational juror could find in favor of
the non-moving party.” Lucente v. Int'l Bus.
Machines Corp., 310 F.3d 243, 254 (2d Cir. 2002).
“primary remedial purpose [of the FLSA is] to prevent
abuses by unscrupulous employers, and remedy the disparate
bargaining power between employers and employees.”
Ortiz v. My Belly's Playlist LLC, 283 F.Supp.3d
125, 126 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) (quoting Cheeks v. Freeport
Pancake House Inc., 796 F.3d 199, 207 (2d Cir. 2015)).
To that end, the FLSA “sets forth employment rules
concerning minimum wages, maximum hours, and overtime
pay.” Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics
Corp., 563 U.S. 1, 4 (2011). Importantly, “[t]he
FLSA statute requires payment of minimum wages and overtime
wages only, therefore, the FLSA is unavailing where wages do
not fall below the statutory minimum and hours do not rise
above the overtime threshold.” Nakah ...