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Compton v. DuPage County Health Department

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

December 12, 2019

Nancy A. Compton, Plaintiff,
v.
DuPage County Health Department, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Manish S. Shah United States District Judge

         Nancy Compton provided home-based health services to a client through a program that the State of Illinois funded and the DuPage County Health Department administered. After the state stopped funding the program, the county ended its participation in it. Compton continued working, but stopped receiving paychecks. She alleges that the county violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law when the state stopped paying her. She also brings a breach-of-contract claim. Compton moves for partial summary judgment on the issue that she was an “employee” of DuPage County under the FLSA and IMLW. The county moves for summary judgment on all counts. For the reasons discussed below, the county's motion is granted, and Compton's motion is denied.

         I. Legal Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and she is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). On cross-motions for summary judgment, “[t]he ordinary standards for summary judgment remain unchanged.” Blow v. Bijora, Inc., 855 F.3d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 2017). I construe all facts and inferences “in favor of the party against whom the motion under consideration is made.” Id.

         Cross-motions should be considered together; summary judgment is appropriate only when the evidence “as a whole” shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Davis v. Time Warner Cable of Se. Wis., L.P., 651 F.3d 664, 671 (7th Cir. 2011); see also Bloodworth v. Vill. of Greendale, 475 Fed. App'x 92, 95 (7th Cir. 2012) (“Cross-motions must be evaluated together, and the court may not grant summary judgment for either side unless the admissible evidence as a whole- from both motions-establishes that no material facts are in dispute.”). I need only consider the cited materials, but I may consider “other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

         II. Background

         Defendant DuPage County Health Department helped administer a state-funded program that provided home-based support services for adults with severe mental illness. [62] ¶¶ 1-2, 57; [66] ¶ 5.[1] Steve Gaydos, a county health department case manager, oversaw the program for three years. [62] ¶¶ 3-4, 22; [66] ¶¶ 17-19. Gaydos evaluated each home-based client's needs, wrote up a service plan for the individual, and, if appropriate, assigned a “respite worker” to provide in-home services to that client. [62] ¶¶ 18, 19; [66] ¶¶ 23-24, 33.[2] Once a month, the respite worker reported how many hours he or she had worked to Gaydos, who entered those hours into a state website so the state could pay the worker. [66] ¶¶ 6-7, 25-26. If the client reported that the assigned provider wasn't working out, Gaydos assigned the client a different respite worker. [62] ¶¶ 20-21. Gaydos also reported what services each client received to the state and submitted receipts from the client to the state for reimbursement. [62] ¶ 23; [66] ¶¶ 5, 32.

         Gaydos learned that plaintiff Nancy Compton was seeking work. [62] ¶ 7. He met with Compton and explained that the state was hiring respite workers, and helped her fill out an online application. [62] ¶ 7; [66] ¶ 20.[3] The state accepted Compton into the program. [66] ¶ 21.[4] After Compton passed a state-run background check, Gaydos matched her with a home-based client. [62] ¶ 14; [66] ¶¶ 21, 46. Gaydos considered Compton a state employee because the state had conducted the background check and was paying her. [66] ¶ 28. The state collected all of the forms related to Compton's employment. [66] ¶ 29.

         Compton did not receive any training or review any materials before beginning work as a respite worker. [66] ¶ 37. No one from the county told Compton what services she should provide to her client. [66] ¶ 49.[5] Compton was told that, if she had any questions or issues, she should report them to Gaydos. [62] ¶ 5.

         Compton worked 10 to 20 hours per week. [66] ¶ 38. She determined what services to administer, how many hours to work, and when to work by discussing the client's needs and schedule with the client and his mother. [66] ¶¶ 39-42. Compton never discussed her schedule with Gaydos or anyone from the state. [66] ¶ 43. If she 13:14-14:2. Compton's testimony does not controvert the county's assertion that Gaydos helped her apply for the respite-worker job. had to miss a day, she notified the client's mother. [66] ¶ 53. Compton bought a number of word-search, reading, and math books for the client, but did not seek reimbursement from the county for those purchases. [66] ¶ 51-52. She chose what books to buy based on conversations with the client's mother. [66] ¶ 51.

         Once a month, Compton reported her work hours, mileage, and reimbursement claims to Gaydos, either over the phone or via text. [62] ¶¶ 8-10; [66] ¶¶ 22, 31, 44. Gaydos then entered Compton's hours into a computer system, which transmitted the information to the state for payment. [62] ¶¶ 8, 57; [66] ¶¶ 13, 22, 30. The state paid Compton once a month, on an hourly basis, at a rate determined by the state. [62] ¶¶ 11, 57; [66] ¶¶ 27, 30, 45.[6] Once every few months, Gaydos would meet with Compton and the client. [66] ¶ 46. Gaydos would ask how things were going and collect any receipts from the client for reimbursement from the state. [66] ¶¶ 46-47.

         In July 2015, the state stopped funding the program, and the respite workers stopped receiving paychecks. [62] ¶¶ 58, 63; [66] ¶ 8. At some point before December, Compton told Gaydos that she was not being paid. [62] ¶¶ 12, 58. Gaydos told her to contact the state. [62] ¶ 12. Gaydos retired in December, and the county appointed someone new to oversee the program. [62] ¶ 6; [66] ¶ 17. Overall, Gaydos worked with Compton for about two years. [62] ¶ 22.[7]

         In June 2016, the county ended its involvement in the program. [66] ¶¶ 9, 16.[8]Compton told Sarah Miller, a county community support specialist and her therapist, that she was not being paid. [62] ¶ 34; [66] ¶¶ 54-56. Miller reported Compton's payment problems to Jeffrey Lata, another health department employee. [62] ¶¶ 38, 41, 50; [66] ¶ 4, 57. Lata told Miller that the state had not funded the program for a while, and Compton should contact the state. [62] ¶ 42; [66] ¶ 57. Compton contacted Lata directly, and Lata told her that the home-based program had ended and the county was no longer participating in the program. [62] ¶ 44; [66] ¶ 11.

         III. Analysis

         Compton brings claims against DuPage County Health Department under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, and also brings a breach-of-contract claim. She moves for partial summary judgment on the ground that she was an employee of DuPage County. In her view, the state and county were her joint employers.

         The county argues that Compton was an independent contractor, not an employee (of either DuPage County or the state). Alternatively, it argues that if Compton was an employee of anybody it was the state, not the county. Finally, the county argues that, even if Compton had been an employee of DuPage County, the employment relationship ended when county employees told Compton that the department was no longer participating in the state program.

         A. The County's ...


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