The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATTHEW KENNELLY, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Michael Skelton and Diane Abbinanti have sued their
former employer, American Intercontinental Online University,
alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act,
29 U.S.C. § 216(b), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq.
and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILCS 115/1
et seq. for failure to pay overtime compensation and
retaliatory discharge. AIUO has filed for summary judgment.
For the reasons stated below, the Court denies AIUO's motions
for summary judgment as to plaintiffs' claims under the FLSA and
the overtime claim under the IMWL but grants AIUO's motions as to
plaintiffs' retaliation claims under the IMWL and IWPCA and as
their claim under the IWPCA.
AIUO is a for-profit college offering associate's, bachelor's,
and master's degrees through online courses. Michael Skelton worked for AIUO in
Hoffman Estates, Illinois from February 10, 2003 through July 17,
2003, when he was terminated. Diane Abbinanti worked in the same
AIUO office from August through October 2002, when she left
voluntarily, and then again from January 10, 2003 until she was
terminated on July 22, 2003. Plaintiffs worked in the position of
"admissions advisor." As admissions advisors, plaintiffs called
prospective students and sought to enroll them in one of the
school's online programs. Plaintiffs were responsible for
recording on time sheets the hours they worked. Hours worked
beyond forty per week were considered overtime work and were
compensated at a rate of time and a half.
AIUO grouped admissions advisors into teams that were
supervised by a director of admissions. Plaintiffs were part of a
team supervised by national director of admissions, Mark Savasta,
and director of admissions, Oma Rassul. Plaintiffs allege that
Savasta and Rassul, along with other AIUO managers, instructed
them to work beyond forty hours per week but prohibited them from
recording the overtime work on their time sheets, which resulted
in plaintiffs not being compensated for the work.
On July 14, 2003, plaintiffs, along with fellow admissions
advisors Gary Severs and Paul Vander Vennet, met with Judy
Clinton, the head of human resources for AIUO. They complained to
Clinton that they were being instructed to work overtime but were
prohibited from recording their overtime hours. Skelton was fired
from AIUO three days after the meeting with Clinton, and
Abbinanti was fired eight days after the meeting.
Summary judgment is proper only if, after considering all of
the evidence and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of
the non-moving party, the Court determines that there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c); Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317 (1986). A genuine issue of
material fact exists when a reasonable finder of fact could find
in favor of the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
1. Overtime compensation claims
As admissions advisors at AIUO, Skelton and Abbinanti were
"employees" under the FLSA and thus were entitled to the benefits
and protections of the Act, including the FLSA's guarantee of
overtime compensation for overtime worked. 29 U.S.C. § 213;
Kennedy v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 410 F.3d 365, 367 (7th Cir.
AIUO makes several arguments in support of its motions for
summary judgment on plaintiffs' claims for failure to pay
overtime wages. First, AIUO asserts, and plaintiffs do not
dispute, that plaintiffs were paid for all overtime hours
actually recorded on their time sheets. Because company policy
made employees responsible for recording their time, AIUO
contends that plaintiffs must bear the loss of any failure on
their part to record their time.
AIUO's argument is unpersuasive. The FLSA makes clear that
employers, not employees, bear the ultimate responsibility for
ensuring that employee time sheets are an accurate record of all
hours worked by employees. 29 U.S.C. § 211(c); Anderson v. Mt.
Clements Pottery Co., 328 U.S. 680, 687 (1946). Thus, if
plaintiffs have evidence sufficient to support a finding that
they were told not to record all their overtime, AIUO cannot hide
behind a policy of having employees keep their own time to avoid
compensating the employees for all overtime hours worked,
including unrecorded hours. See Walton v. United Consumers Club,
Inc., 786 F.2d 303, 314-15 (7th Cir. 1986) (because the FLSA requires "every employer
to keep an accurate record of hours worked by each employee" the
employer, rather than the employees, must suffer the consequences
of inaccurate time sheets); see also Ladegaard v. Hard ...