Lockhart v. D&S Residential Servs., LP

Decision Date31 July 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 2:18-cv-02586-JPM-cgc
PartiesANGELA LOCKHART, Plaintiff, v. D&S RESIDENTIAL SERVICES, LP, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Tennessee
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT D&S RESIDENTIAL SERVICES, LP'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Before the Court is Defendant D&S Residential Services, LP's (hereinafter "D&S") Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on April 10, 2020. (ECF No. 87.) D&S moves the Court pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 to grant judgment in its favor as to Plaintiff Angela Lockhart's Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") uncompensated overtime claim. (Id.) D&S argues that Plaintiff's claim fails as a matter of law (1) because she provides only conclusory statements in support of her allegations of FLSA overtime violations, and (2) because D&S cannot be held liable under the FLSA for uncompensated time that it was unaware of. (ECF No. 87-6 at PageID 611-15.) Alternatively, Defendant argues that Plaintiff cannot demonstrate that its alleged FLSA violations were willful. (Id. at PageID 615-16.)

Plaintiff filed her Response in Opposition on May 8, 2020. (ECF No. 94.) Plaintiff asserts that she has provided sufficient evidence to support her FLSA overtime claims. (Id. at PageID 1102-03.) Plaintiff also asserts that she can prove that D&S's violations were willful because she has set forth specific facts demonstrating that D&S knew Plaintiff was working uncompensated off-the-clock hours and that she was discouraged from reporting her overtime hours worked. (Id. at PageID 1103-06.)

Defendant filed its Reply on May 22, 2020. (ECF No. 98.) Defendant argues that Plaintiff provides only conclusory, speculative allegations to support her unpaid overtime claim, that the Court should not consider her post-summary judgment affidavit, that Plaintiff waived her argument in response to Defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of her evidence, and that she asserts claims which the Court dismissed in the Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend. (See generally id.)

For the reasons set forth below, D&S's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.1

I. BACKGROUND
A. Undisputed Facts

The following facts are not disputed for purposes of summary judgment.

D&S is a Texas based limited partnership registered to do business in Tennessee. (Complaint, ECF No. 1 ¶ 9.) D&S provides community-based services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, providing everything from in-home support services to day-habilitation programs and vocational training and residential group homes.2 (ECF No. 87-6 at PageID 605.) Lockhart worked for D&S from March 2016 to February 2018 as aprogram supervisor out of D&S's Memphis, Tennessee office. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 16; Lockhart Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ("Lockhart SOMF"), ECF No. 94-4 at PageID 1156.) As program supervisor, Lockhart oversaw D&S's residential group homes and in-home support staff in and around Memphis, Tennessee. (Id. at PageID 1157.) She worked with other D&S program supervisors and personnel working out of D&S's Kate Bond location, including D&S Program Director Kanika Robinson, who Lockhart reported to directly, and D&S Executive Director Eric Buress. (Id.)

In December 2016, D&S transitioned its program supervisors from exempt to non-exempt employees. (Id. at PageID 1156.) D&S made this switch because of changes made to the FLSA's white collar exemptions. (Id.)

At all times relevant to this case, D&S had in place time-reporting policies and procedures that required its employees to report both their regular and overtime hours. (See id. at PageID 1157-59.) When Lockhart was hired in March 2016, she acknowledged that she understood and had reviewed D&S's time reporting policies and procedures. (Id. at PageID 1157.) These policies and procedures included: (1) a requirement that "non-exempt employees . . . show all time actually worked"; (2) "a warning that a failure to record through the system all time worked may result in disciplinary action"; (3) "a disclaimer that non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay"; and (4) "a requirement that overtime be approved prior to being worked." (Id. (citing Time Records Policy, ECF No. 34-5).) In March 2016, Lockhart also acknowledged that she would not falsify D&S company records. (Id. at PageID 1157-58.) D&S trained Lockhart on what qualifies as "working time" under the FLSA. (Id. at PageID 1158.)

D&S utilized a timekeeping system called "UltiPro." (Id.) The UltiPro system allowed employees to clock in and out of work and to report hours worked outside of their regularly scheduled work hours. (Id.) The system also allowed employees to make changes to their time entries. (Id.) Lockhart was able to report her "off-the-clock" hours (hours worked after the close of regularly scheduled business) using the UltiPro system. (Id. at PageID 1160.) Lockhart could use the UltiPro "comments" feature to inform D&S, for example, if she forgot to clock out at a certain time or needed to be paid for a rest break that she worked through. (Id. at PageID 1160-61.) The UltiPro system also allowed Lockhart to report her after-hours work-related phone calls. (Id. at PageID 1161.) Lockhart testified that UltiPro allowed her to report if she needed to be "paid for hours that occurred away from the office," and that she generally tried "to be accurate" in recording her time. (Id. at PageID 1161-62; Lockhart Deposition ("Lockhart Dep."), ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 580, 583, pp. 49:20-25, 63:4-8.)

D&S also allowed employees to use "call logs" to report work-related calls taken outside of their regularly scheduled work hours. (Lockhart SOMF, ECF No. 94-4 at PageID 1159.) Call logs allowed D&S employees to report their time spent taking work calls both in the office and at home outside of normal business hours. (Id.) Lockhart was aware of these call logs. (Id.)

Lockhart also could report her off-the-clock hours via email. (Id. at PageID 1162.) During her deposition, Lockhart testified that although she did not recall "whether . . . it was an official way of reporting [her] time to D&S," she admitted that she had the ability to report time via email and that she had done so on at least one occasion. (Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 587, at p. 92:16-24.)

D&S paid Lockhart for all hours she reported. (Lockhart SOMF, ECF No. 94-4 at PageID 1162; Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 574, p. 13:13-20.) Specifically, Lockhart testified that D&S paid her wages for all hours she reported as worked. (Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 574, at p. 13:17-20.) Her reported time also occasionally included overtime. (See Lockhart SOMF, ECF No. 94-4 at PageID 1163.)

Lockhart asserts that D&S management stressed that she and the other program supervisors should not work or accrue overtime.3 (Id. at PageID 1163.) In her deposition testimony, Lockhart was unable to name the members of management who told Lockhart and other D&S employees that they should not accrue or work overtime hours. (Id. at PageID 1163-64; Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 578, p. 34:2-12.) Lockhart expressed her concerns over D&S overtime policies to a coworker, but she did not mention her concerns to anyone else at D&S or anyone outside of D&S. (Lockhart SOMF, ECF No. 94-4 at PageID 1164; Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 577, pp. 26:3-25, 27:1-11.) Although D&S never officially disciplined Lockhart for reporting her overtime hours, she testified that "management did stress verbally not to accrue any overtime hours." (Lockhart SOMF, ECF No. 94-4 at PageID 1164; Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 578, pp. 34:19-20, 35:9-10.) Lockhart testified that D&S disciplined her office mate Nicole McCory for reporting overtime. (Lockhart Dep., ECF No. 87-2 at PageID 578, p. 35:19-23.)

B. Lockhart's Allegations

Lockhart alleges that D&S failed to pay her for off-the-clock hours worked, including when she was "on her lunch break" and for "after hours calls," in violation of the FLSA. (ECFNo. 1 ¶ 45.) Lockhart alleges that D&S required its employees, including Lockhart and other program supervisors, to work hours off the clock without reporting any of those hours. (Id. ¶ 48.) Lockhart alleges that D&S failed to adequately keep and preserve records of its employees' hours when it required Lockhart and other D&S employees to work unreported off the clock hours, thus preventing its employees from "determining wages, hours, and other conditions and practice[s] of employment, in violation of the FLSA . . . ." (Id. ¶ 51.) Lockhart also alleges that D&S willfully violated the FLSA, as D&S "showed reckless disregard for the fact that its compensation practices were in violation of the law." (Id. ¶ 52.)

C. Procedural Background

Lockhart filed this collective action on August 28, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) D&S filed its Answer on October 31, 2018. (ECF No. 13.) On February 15, 2019, Lockhart filed a Motion to Conditionally Certify the Collective Action. (ECF No. 29.) On July 9, 2019, the Court entered an Order Granting the Motion to Conditionally Certify the Collective Action. (ECF No. 44.) On July 9, 2019, the Court entered an Amended Scheduling Order, setting the opt-in period following conditional certification of the collective action. (ECF No. 45.) On August 16, 2019, the Court Granted in Part and Denied in Part D&S's Motion to Clarify/Modify the Court's Conditional Certification Order. (ECF No. 55.) The Court then entered a Second Amended Scheduling Order on August 16, 2019. (ECF No. 56.)

On November 20, 2019, the Parties filed a Joint Motion to Partially Amend the Second Amended Scheduling Order. (ECF No. 69.) The Third Amended Scheduling Order, entered on November 22, 2019, extended the close of discovery to February 29, 2020 and further extendedthe deadlines for filing dispositive motions and motions to decertify the collective. (ECF No. 70.)

On February 3, 2020, Lockhart filed her Motion for Leave to Amend the...

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