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LABOY v. ALEX DISPLAYS

May 20, 2003

WILFREDO LABOY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ALEX DISPLAYS, INC. AND CHUCK FELDER, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne B. Conlon, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Wilfredo Laboy ("Laboy") sues Alex Displays, Inc. ("Alex Displays") and Chuck Felder ("Felder")(collectively, "defendants") for unpaid overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. § 251 et seq., and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS § 105 et seq. Defendants move for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.

BACKGROUND

All facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted. Alex Displays is a family-owned and operated corporation that designs and builds trade show exhibits. Alex Displays employs between ten and twelve individuals, including Felder. Felder is sole shareholder and president of Alex Displays. Felder handles all administrative and accounting matters for the company, including payroll.

From January 2000 to August 2002, Laboy was employed by Alex Displays as a laborer. Laboy's job duties included building trade show displays. In addition, Laboy was responsible for assembling and dismantling trade show displays.

Alex Displays' laborers worked in Chicago most of the time. Approximately three to five times a year, employees attended trade shows held in Las Vegas and New York. Alex Displays' laborers, including Laboy, arrived several days before the trade show was scheduled to begin to assemble the displays. At the end of the show, the laborers dismantled the displays. During the trade show, the laborers would check on the displays. The laborers worked approximately the same number of hours at each trade show.

To facilitate payroll, Alex Displays used a bonus system to pay its employees attending trade shows in New York and Las Vegas. Under the bonus system, each employee received two checks. The first check reflected payment for forty hours at an employee's regular rate regardless of the number of hours worked during the first week at the trade show. According to Alex Displays, the second check compensated employees for overtime worked during the trade show. Alex Displays claims it paid more than one and one-half times the employees' regular rate for overtime at trade shows to compensate for the inconvenience of working away from home, as well as meal expenses in excess of the per diem rate paid to each employee.

Laboy seeks overtime compensation under the FLSA and IMWL for the first week of the trade shows held in Las Vegas and New York. Specifically, he claims overtime for three weeks in 2000, four weeks in 2001, and three weeks in 2002.

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving papers and affidavits show there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once a moving party has met its burden, the non-moving party must go beyond the pleadings and set forth specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Silk v. City of Chicago, 194 F.3d 788, 798 (7th Cir. 1999). The court considers the record as a whole and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Bay v. Cassens Transport Co., 212 F.3d 969, 972 (7th Cir. 2000). A genuine issue of material fact exists when "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).

II. Laboy's Overtime Claims

The parties apparently agree that the overtime provisions of the FLSA and the IMWL are coextensive because neither party addresses Laboy's IMWL claim. The Illinois Administrative Code and Illinois case law support the parties' assumption that if the bonus program used by Alex Displays to compensate Laboy for working overtime complies with the ELSA, the program also complies with Illinois law. See Condo v. Sysco Corp., 1 F.3d 599, 601 n. 3 (7th Cir. 1993), citing 56 Ill. Admin. Code § 200.170 (1991) and Haynes v. Tru-Green Corp., 154 Ill. App.3d 967, 977, 507 N.E.2d 945, 951 (4th Dist. 1987). Therefore, Laboy's federal and state law claims will be considered together under the ELSA's framework.

Employers must compensate employees who work more than forty hours a week "at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed." 29 U.S.C. ยง 207(a). According to defendants, Laboy was compensated at an amount equal to or greater than one and one-half times his regular rate for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. Specifically, defendants claim Laboy cannot establish the number of hours he purportedly worked in excess ...


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