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Jang v. Woo Lae Oak, Inc.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 12, 2013

GINA JANG, HOSEONG CHANG, and KYOUNG CHOI, Plaintiffs,
v.
WOO LAE OAK, INC. CHICAGO; JIN K. JANG; CHIYOON KIM; IL KWON JEONG; KEI WOOK LEE; and KAYLYN KIM, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Gina Jang, Hoseong Chang, and Kyoung Choi have brought this action, alleging that Defendants failed to pay Plaintiffs minimum wages and overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act, 820 ILCS 115/1. Defendant Kaylyn Kim has moved for summary judgment, arguing that she is not an "employer" under the relevant laws and, therefore, has no personal liability for Plaintiffs' claims. For the reasons discussed below, Kim's Motion [103] is denied.

BACKGROUND

Local Rule 56.1

Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requires the party moving for summary judgment to provide "a statement of material facts as to which the moving party contends there is no genuine issue." Rule 56.1(b)(3) then requires the nonmoving party to admit or deny each factual statement proffered by the moving party and, in the case of any disagreement, to specifically reference the "affidavits, parts of the record, and other supporting materials relied upon." See also Schrott v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., 403 F.3d 940, 944 (7th Cir. 2005). Rule 56.1(b)(3)(C) also permits the non-movant to submit additional statements of material facts, likewise supported by specific references, that require the denial of summary judgment.

A litigant's failure to dispute the facts set forth in its opponent's statement in the manner required by Local Rule 56.1 deems those facts admitted for purposes of summary judgment. Smith v. Lamz, 321 F.3d 680, 683 (7th Cir. 2003); see also Bordelon v. Chicago Sch. Reform Bd. of Trustees, 233 F.3d 524, 527 (7th Cir. 2000) (the district court has discretion to require strict compliance with its local rules governing summary judgment). Accordingly, to the extent that a response to a statement of material fact provides only extraneous or argumentative information, this response will not constitute a proper denial of the fact, and the fact is admitted. See Graziano v. Vill. of Oak Park, 401 F.Supp.2d 918, 937 (N.D. Ill. 2005). Similarly, to the extent that a statement of fact contains a legal conclusion or otherwise unsupported statement, including a fact which relies upon inadmissible hearsay, such a fact is disregarded. Eisenstadt v. Centel Corp., 113 F.3d 738, 742 (7th Cir. 1997).

Factual Background

Plaintiffs are all former employees of the Woo Lae Oak restaurant in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Plaintiff Gina Jang worked there from September 2009 through September 2011; Plaintiff Hoseong Chang worked there from August 2009 through February 2011; and Plaintiff Kyoung Choi worked there from February 2011 through June 2011. (Def.'s Rule 56(C)(2) Statement of Material Facts ("SOF") ¶¶ 1-3.) Plaintiffs filed this instant action on February 3, 2012, and discovery is ongoing.

Defendant Kaylyn Kim has been employed at the Woo Lae Oak restaurant since March 2010. ( Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) Kim does not hold an ownership interest in Woo Lae Oak Inc., Chicago and is not an officer of Woo Lae Oak Inc., Chicago. (SOF ¶¶ 5, 6.). According to Kim's affidavit, she held the title "office manager" during the relevant time period, and her job duties included organizing office operations and procedures, designing and implementing a filing system, preparing the monthly inventory budget, reviewing and approving restaurant supply requisitions, updating licenses, and maintaining office equipment. (SOF ¶ 9; Affidavit of Kaylyn Kim ¶ 5.) In her affidavit, Kim states that she: did not have the authority to hire or fire employees such as Plaintiffs; did not supervise Plaintiffs' day-to-day job performance; did not prepare their work schedules; did not determine the rate or method of Plaintiffs' pay; and did not prepare Plaintiffs' payroll checks, although she did prepare payroll checks for some employees. (SOF ¶¶ 10, 11, 12, 14, 15.) Instead, according to Kim, Defendant Il Kwon Jeong was the "hall manager" who was responsible for firing and hiring employees and for controlling employees' work schedules, conditions and rate of pay. (SOF ¶ 16.)

In her declaration, however, Plaintiff Gina Jang claims that: Kim told the customers Kim was in charge of everything, including the restaurant's kitchen; Kim conducted interviews of job applicants; Kim held herself out to Jang and other employees as "general manager"; Kim told Jang that she would pay Jang lost wages on an hourly basis when "business gets better"; Kim overruled instructions given by Jeong to waiters on several occasions; and Kim offered to pay Jang the wages of a manager if Jang did not quit. (Plaintiffs' Statement of Additional Facts ("SAF") ¶¶ 1-8; see also Exh. 1, Decl. of Gina Jang.)[1] Plaintiffs also state that Kim was responsible, in whole or in part, for overseeing Woo Lae Oak's financial transactions and accounting. (SAF ¶ 11.)

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying the evidence it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). If the moving party meets this burden, the nonmoving party cannot rest on conclusory pleadings but "must present sufficient evidence to show the existence of each element of its case on which it will bear the burden at trial." Serfecz v. Jewel Food Stores, 67 F.3d 591, 596 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86 (1986)). A mere scintilla of evidence is not sufficient to oppose a motion for summary judgment; nor is a metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Robin v. ESPO Eng'g Corp., 200 F.3d 1081, 1088 (7th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). Rather, the evidence must be such "that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Pugh v. City of Attica, Ind., 259 F.3d 619, 625 (7th Cir. 2001) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor. Abdullahi v. City of Madison, 423 F.3d 763, 773 (7th Cir. 2005) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). The ...


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