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Ferenzi v. City of Chicago

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

March 30, 2018

JOSEPH FERENZI, individually and on behalf of other similarly situated members of the Chicago Police Department, Plaintiff,
CITY OF CHICAGO, an Illinois Municipal Corporation, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Joseph Ferenzi, an officer with the Chicago Police Department, brings this action, claiming that Defendant City of Chicago has failed to include a $350 Fitness Pay Incentive in its computation of Ferenzi's regular hourly pay rate and, as a result, has paid him less in overtime wages than was due. Ferenzi contends that this conduct violates § 207 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and Illinois Minimum Wage Law (“IMWL”), 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. 105/1, et seq. Ferenzi has filed a motion for summary judgment on Count I of his First Amended Complaint, which seeks a declaratory judgment that the City's conduct violates the FLSA. In turn, the City has filed a motion for summary judgment as to all three counts in Ferenzi's complaint. In addition, the City has filed a motion to strike one of Ferenzi's exhibits. For the reasons given below, the City's motion for summary judgment is granted, and Ferenzi's motion is denied. The City's motion to strike is stricken as moot.

         Factual Background[1]

         Plaintiff Joseph Ferenzi is a City of Chicago police officer. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 4, ECF No. 119. Defendant City of Chicago is a municipal corporation organized under Illinois law, and it established the Chicago Police Department. Id. ¶ 3.

         Ferenzi is a union member subject to a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), and he is represented by the Fraternal Order of Police. Id. ¶ 7; Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 5, ECF No. 81. Under the CBA, “non-probationary” officers such as Ferenzi are entitled to a Physical Fitness Incentive (“FPI”) of $350 paid annually as a lump sum if they voluntarily satisfy certain physical fitness tests, including sit-ups, running, and bench presses. Id. ¶¶ 11-13. The test must be taken outside of customary working hours. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 13. A “Letter of Understanding and Agreement Regarding Physical Fitness” states that it is an “effort to promote physical fitness” among covered officers. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt., Ex. 1 at 2, ECF No. 81-2.

         Ferenzi received the FPI payment in each of the past three years of his employment. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 14; Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 10. He signed a form agreeing that participation in the FPI was voluntary, that he was participating on his own time, and that it did not constitute an on-duty activity. Id. The test standards and results of the testing are not subject to the grievance procedure in the CBA. Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 7.

         The City has not included the $350 FPI in its computation of Ferenzi's regular rate of pay, for purposes of computing what overtime rate he would be due under the FLSA.[2] The parties also agree that, for each of the three years prior to the filing of this lawsuit, Ferenzi worked in excess of 171 hours in at least one 28-day period. Def.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s LR 56.1(a)(3) Stmt. ¶ 15.

         Legal Standard

         “The court shall grant summary judgment 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); see also Shell v. Smith, 789 F.3d 715, 717 (7th Cir. 2015). To survive summary judgment, the nonmoving party must “do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts, ” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986), and instead must “establish some genuine issue for trial such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in her favor.” Gordon v. FedEx Freight, Inc., 674 F.3d 769, 772-73 (7th Cir. 2012).

         The evidence considered for summary judgment “must be admissible if offered at trial, except that affidavits, depositions, and other written forms of testimony can substitute for live testimony.” Malin v. Hospira, Inc., 762 F.3d 552, 554-55 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court gives the nonmoving party “the benefit of conflicts in the evidence and reasonable inferences that could be drawn from it.” Grochocinski v. Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, LLP, 719 F.3d 785, 794 (7th Cir. 2013).

         Moreover, Rule 56 “requires the district court to grant a motion for summary judgment after discovery ‘against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.'” Silverman v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chi., 637 F.3d 729, 743 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)). The moving party has the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Once the moving party has sufficiently demonstrated the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, the nonmoving party must then set forth specific facts showing there are disputed material facts that must be decided at trial. See id. at 321-22.


         In his First Amended Complaint, Ferenzi alleges that the City willfully failed to include the $350 FPI in its computation of his regular hourly pay rate.[3] Am. Compl. ¶¶ 18, 21, ECF No. 42. According to the complaint, since the FLSA and the IMWL require overtime payments of 1.5 times the regular pay rate, his overtime pay was lower than required. In Count I, he seeks a declaratory judgment that the City's conduct willfully violates the FLSA, as well as attorney's fees and costs. In Count II, he seeks monetary damages for the alleged FLSA violation. In Count III, he alleges a violation of the IMWL, and he seeks damages and prospective relief.[4]

         In seeking summary judgment on these claims, the City argues that Ferenzi has not presented any evidence that he has standing to bring his FLSA and IMWL claims. Because ...

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