United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff,
MARGARET MARANTO, et al., Defendants.
TIMOTHY D. DEGIUSTI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Meers Store and Restaurant,
Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 42] filed
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The Motion is supported by
Defendant's opening and reply briefs [Doc. Nos. 43 &
58]; and opposed by Plaintiff's response brief [Doc. No.
case involves claims by the United States Department of Labor
under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29
U.S.C. §§ 201-19, that Defendants Meers Store &
Restaurant, Inc. (the “Store”) and Margaret
Maranto violated the FLSA by failing to pay minimum wages to
employees, failing to pay overtime compensation, failing to
comply with child labor provisions, and failing to maintain
required records since January 30, 2012. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief, an assessment of unpaid wages and
compensation owed to the Store's employees, and
liquidated damages for willful FLSA violations.
answer to the Complaint, Defendants admitted that Joe and
Margaret Maranto (husband and wife) have managed the Store
during the relevant time period and that the Store
“supervises or controls employees.” See
Am. Answer [Doc. No. 22], ¶¶ 2-3. In answering
interrogatories, Defendants stated that both Mr. and Mrs.
Maranto have full management authority. See
Defs.' Answer Pl.'s First Set Interrogs. [Doc. No.
55-3] at 3. Now, however, the Store presents facts based on
an affidavit of Mr. Maranto stating that during a period of
his incapacity, Mrs. Maranto “assumed all management
duties including adopting and enforcing personnel policies,
” without his knowledge or authority (or that of
“any other person having any interest in Meers
Store”). See Maranto Aff. [Doc. No. 43-2],
¶¶ 3-6. Based on these asserted facts, the Store
seeks a summary determination that it is not liable for any
statutory violations that occurred because its manager, Mrs.
Maranto, was not authorized to adopt the alleged unlawful
personnel policies or to commit the alleged unlawful acts.
objects to the Store's Motion on grounds that this
ultra vires defense was not raised in
Defendants' pleading or in answers to interrogatories
requesting such information, that Mr. Maranto's affidavit
is insufficient to support such a defense, that the
Store's statement of material facts is disputed, and that
the asserted defense has no basis in FLSA law. Plaintiff is
correct that the Store provides no legal authority for its
asserted defense; the cases cited in its brief address only
the personal liability of corporate officers as an
“employer” under the FLSA or state law. See
Fraternal Order of Police Barkley Lodge #60, Inc. v.
Fletcher, 618 F.Supp.2d 712, 722 (W.D. Ky. 2008) (FLSA)
(cited in Def.'s Reply Br. [Doc. No. 58] at 1); Ayon
v. Kent Denver Sch., Civ. Action No. 12-cv-2546-WJM-CBS,
2013 WL 1786978 (D. Colo. April 26, 2013) (unpublished)
(state-law claims) (cited in Def.'s Opening Br. [Doc. No.
43] at 5). However, Plaintiff also fails to provide legal
authority to support its argument, which is, the fact
“[t]hat a manager may take an action in violation of
the FLSA that was not specifically authorized by the
corporate employer is immaterial to the corporate
employer's liability under the statute.”
See Pl.'s Resp. Br. [Doc. No. 55] at 7.
judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there
is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is
such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for either
party. Id. at 255. The movant bears the initial
burden of demonstrating the absence of a dispute of material
fact warranting summary judgment. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If the movant
carries this burden, the nonmovant must then “set forth
specific facts” that would be admissible in evidence
and that show a genuine issue for trial. See
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Celotex, 477 U.S. at
324; Adler v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 664,
671 (10th Cir. 1998); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).
FLSA imposes duties on covered employers with respect to
compensation and working conditions of non-exempt employees.
In relevant part, an “employer” as defined by
FLSA “includes any person acting directly or indirectly
in the interest of an employer in relation to an
employee.” See 29 U.S.C. § 203(d).
“‘Person' means an individual, partnership,
association, corporation, business trust, legal
representative, or any organized group of persons.”
Id. § 203(a). With certain exceptions not
relevant here, “the term ‘employee' means any
individual employed by an employer.” Id.
§ 203(e)(1). And the term “‘[e]mploy'
includes to suffer or permit to work.'”
Id. § 203(g). Federal courts have recognized
that “the breadth of these definitions is both
intentional and obvious.” Thompson v. Real Estate
Mortg. Network, 748 F.3d 142, 148 (3d Cir. 2014).
“‘The Supreme Court has even gone so far as to
acknowledge that the FLSA's definition of an employer is
the broadest definition that has ever been included in any
one act.'” Id. (quoting In re
Enterprise Rent-A-Car Wage & Hour Emp't Prac.
Litig., 683 F.3d 462, 467-68 (3d Cir. 2012)) (internal
quotation and citation omitted).
federal appellate court has also observed:
“Unfortunately, however, the statute's definition
of “employer” relies on the very word it seeks to
define . . . . The statute nowhere defines
‘employer' in the first instance.'”
Irizarry v. Catsimatidis, 722 F.3d 99, 103 (2d Cir.
2013). To effectuate FLSA's remedial purposes, the
Supreme Court “‘has instructed that the
determination of whether an employer-employee relationship
exists for purposes of the FLSA should be grounded in
economic reality rather than technical concepts.'”
Id. at 104 (quoting Barfield v. NYC Health &
Hosps. Corp., 537 F.3d 132, 141 (2d Cir. 2008))
(internal quotation omitted); see Baker v. Flint
Eng'g & Const. Co., 137 F.3d 1436, 1440 (10th
Cir. 1998). Most appellate courts have “treated
employment for FLSA purposes as a flexible concept to be
determined on a case-by-case basis by review of the totality
of the circumstances” and “have identified
different sets of relevant factors based on the factual
challenges posed by particular cases.”
Barfield, 537 F.3d at 141-42. Further,
“[u]nder the FLSA, multiple persons or entities can be
responsible for a single employee's wages as ‘joint
employers' in certain situations.” See
Thompson, 748 F.3d at 148. In these situations,
“each joint employer may be held jointly and severally
liable for the FLSA violations of the other, in addition to
direct liability for its own violations.” Id.
case, the Store's motion for summary judgment does not
present sufficient facts or legal authority to support its
position that it was not the FLSA “employer” of
the employees whose wages and employment are the subject of
the Complaint. Therefore, on the summary judgment record
presented, the Court finds that the Store has not carried its
initial burden to demonstrate the absence of a dispute of
material fact and its entitlement to a judgment as a matter
these reasons, the Court finds that the Store has not shown
there is no genuine dispute of material facts and it is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's
FLSA claims against it.
THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Meers Store and Restaurant,
Inc.'s Motion for Summary ...