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Jim Reich, Jr. and Kathleen Mittel v. County of Cook

August 14, 2012

JIM REICH, JR. AND KATHLEEN MITTEL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COUNTY OF COOK, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Robert W. Gettleman

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Jim Reich, Jr. and Kathleen Mittel brought a three-count complaint alleging that defendant Cook County failed to pay them for hours they worked in excess of a forty hour workweek. The complaint alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (Count I); the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act ("IWPCA"), 820 ILCS 115/1 et seq. (Count II); and the Illinois Minimum Wage Act ("IMWL"), 820 ILCS 105/1 et seq. (Count III). Defendant Cook County has moved for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons discussed below, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

DISCUSSION

I. Legal Standard

Summary judgment is proper when the pleadings, discovery, and disclosure materials on file, as well as affidavits, demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Winsley v. Cook County, 563 F.3d 598, 602-03 (7th Cir. 2009). In reviewing a summary judgment motion, "[t]he court has one task and one task only: to decide, based on the evidence of record, whether there is any material dispute of fact that requires a trial." Payne v. Pauley, 337 F.3d 767, 770 (7th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). On a motion for summary judgment, the entire record is considered with all reasonable inferences drawn and all factual disputes resolved in favor of the non-movant. Turner v. J.V.D.B. & Assocs., Inc., 330 F.3d 991, 995 (7th Cir. 2003).

The burden of establishing a lack of any genuine issue of material fact rests on the movant. Outlaw v. Newkirk, 259 F.3d 833, 837 (7th Cir. 2001). The non-movant, however, must make a showing sufficient to establish any essential element for which the non-movant will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); Binz v. Brandt Constr. Co., 301 F.3d 529, 532 (7th Cir. 2002).

II. Undisputed Facts

The following facts come from the parties' L.R. 56.1 statements and are undisputed. Plaintiffs work as toxicologists at the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner, which provides investigative services related to deaths that take place throughout Illinois. Plaintiffs' employment is governed by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between their union and defendant. Reich was hired by the Cook County Medical Examiner in 1984; Mittel in 1985. Both currently hold the job title of Toxicologist II. Duties of that position include extracting and analyzing forensic samples, maintaining instruments, performing alcohol and carbon monoxide testing, and storing and disposing of tissues.

III. Defendant's Summary Judgment Motion

A. Count I: Fair Labor Standards Act

Defendant argues that it is entitled to summary judgment on Count I, plaintiffs' claim for unpaid overtime under the FLSA, because plaintiffs are exempt from the FLSA as "learned professionals." Because the undisputed facts show that plaintiffs are indeed "learned professionals" under the FLSA, defendant is entitled to summary judgment on this claim.

Executive, administrative, or professional employees, one type of which is a "learned professional," are exempted from the FLSA. 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1). A "learned professional" is an employee who is, 1) "[c]ompensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week," and 2) "[w]hose primary duty is the performance of work . . . [r]equiring knowledge of an advanced type in a field of science or learning customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction." 29 C.F.R. § 541.300(a). Plaintiffs do not dispute that they earn over $455 a week. Plaintiffs do contest, however, that they were compensated on a salary or fee basis-according to plaintiffs, they were compensated on an hourly basis-and that their position meets the second prong of the "learned professionals" test. For the following reasons, neither contention is sufficient to avoid summary judgment.

1. Salary Basis

For defendant to establish that plaintiffs are compensated on a "salary basis," it must show that they "regularly receive[] each pay period on a weekly, or less frequent[,] basis, a predetermined amount constituting all or part of the employee's compensation, which amount is not subject to ...


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