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Salamone v. Upstream Investment Partners, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 16, 2018

Sherry Salamone, Plaintiff,
v.
Upstream Investment Partners, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Ronald A. Guzmán United States District Judge

         For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment [37] is denied.

         STATEMENT

         Background

         Defendant is a full-service financial consulting firm. (Pl.'s Resp. Def.'s Stmt. Facts, Dkt. # 42, ¶ 8.) Plaintiff began work with Defendant as an office coordinator on January 7, 2011, and her employment was terminated on April 22, 2016. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 8.) Plaintiff alleges overtime violations pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (“IMWL”), and the Illinois Wage Payment Collection Act (“IWPCA”). Defendant moves for summary judgment as to the FLSA claim.

         Standard

         Summary judgment is proper when the “‘materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations (including those made for purposes of the motion only), admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials' show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Baines v. Walgreen Co., 863 F.3d 656, 661 (7th Cir. 2017) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a)). The party opposing summary judgment “cannot merely rest on its pleadings; it must affirmatively demonstrate, by producing evidence that is more than ‘merely colorable' that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Omnicare, Inc. v. UnitedHealth Grp., Inc., 629 F.3d 697, 705 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986)). 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, 477 U.S. at 248.

         Analysis

         While the FLSA requires employers to pay its employees overtime premiums for hours worked in excess of forty hours, certain classes of workers are exempt from the FLSA's coverage. 29 U.S.C. §§ 207, 213. Under section 213(a)(1), “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity” is exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements. 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1). Defendant contends that Plaintiff was exempt from the FLSA as an administrative employee.

         Pursuant to regulations promulgated by the Department of Labor (“DOL”), an “employee employed in a bona fide administrative capacity” shall mean any employee: “(1) Compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week . . ., exclusive of board, lodging or other facilities;[1] (2) Whose primary duty is the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer's customers; and (3) Whose primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.200(a)(1)-(3). Plaintiff does not dispute that she received a salary in excess of $455.00 per week or that her primary duties consisted of office work and did not include manual labor. Plaintiff contends, however, that her job did not relate to the “management or general business operations” of Defendant under the second prong and she did not “exercise discretion or independent judgment with respect to matters of significance” under the third.

         With respect to whether her job related to the management or general business operations of Defendant, Plaintiff asserts that the work she performed must directly relate to the business operations of the employee's customers. (Pl.'s Resp., Dkt. # 43, at 6.) This assertion is unsupported by any citation to authority, and contradicts the express language of the regulation, so the Court will not consider it. The undisputed record establishes that Plaintiff's work “directly related to the management and general business operations of” Defendant or its customers, and therefore, the second prong is satisfied.

         The exercise of discretion prong, as used in this regulation, means that an employee engages in “the comparison and evaluation of possible courses of conduct, and acting or making a decision after the various possibilities have been considered.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.202(a). The DOL has provided a non-exclusive list of relevant factors to assist in determining whether an employee exercises discretion and independent judgment, including:

[W]hether the employee has authority to formulate, affect, interpret, or implement management policies or operating practices; whether the employee carries out major assignments in conducting the operations of the business; whether the employee performs work that affects business operations to a substantial degree, even if the employee's assignments are related to operation of a particular segment of the business; whether the employee has authority to commit the employer in matters that have significant financial impact; whether the employee has authority to waive or deviate from established policies and procedures without prior approval; whether the employee has authority to negotiate and bind the company on significant matters; whether the employee provides consultation or expert advice to management; whether the employee is involved in planning long- or short-term business ...

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