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Gonzalez v. Naumann/Hobbs Material Handling Corporation II Incorporated

United States District Court, D. Arizona

January 17, 2017

Jose Gonzalez, Plaintiff,
Naumann/Hobbs Material Handling Corporation II Incorporated, et al., Defendants.


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jose Gonzalez filed a complaint against Defendants Naumann/Hobbs Material Handling Corporation II, Inc., Bryan Armstrong, and Pamela Armstrong. Doc. 1. Plaintiff seeks declaratory, monetary, and other relief for alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's (“FLSA”) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements. Id. Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment. Doc. 18. The motion is fully briefed (Docs. 18, 27, 29), and oral argument will not aid the Court's decision. For the reasons stated below, the Court will deny Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background.

         Naumann/Hobbs is incorporated and headquartered in Arizona. Doc. 1, ¶ 10. It specializes in providing material handling equipment such as forklifts and other heavy machinery. Id., ¶ 14. Bryan Armstrong is the President, CEO, and owner of the business, as well as the husband of Pamela Armstrong. Id., ¶¶ 11-13. Plaintiff first worked as a partsman for Naumann/Hobbs at Defendants' Yuma, Arizona location. Id., ¶ 15; Doc. 19, ¶¶ 2, 5. In June 2013, Plaintiff was promoted to Counter Sales Manager at Defendants' Mexicali, Mexico facility. Doc. 19, ¶ 5; Doc. 28, ¶ 5. Plaintiff contends that from March 2013 until his termination he regularly worked approximately 48 hours per week, but was not paid overtime. Doc. 19, ¶¶ 2-3; Doc. 28, ¶¶ 2-3.

         The Job Description of the Counter Sales Manager, attached as Exhibit 2 to Defendant's motion, outlines Plaintiff's duties: (1) “generating counter sales documents daily for all parts request via walk in customers, emails, fax or phone call”; (2) “receiving, unpacking and storing of parts received”; and (3) “active[ly] participat[ing] in achieving the branch goals both sales and operationally.” Doc. 19 at 14. The objective of the position was “[t]o actively promote the selling of parts over the counter for both internal and external customers to achieve the goals and performance measures set by management and to meet or exceed the customer's expectations[.]” Id.

         Defendants describe Plaintiff's responsibilities as follows:

providing support to company technicians for their parts needs, creating purchase orders to order needed parts from suppliers, placing orders with suppliers, recommending to management adding stock items and controlling inventory, processing parts for entry into the operating system and performing inventory cycle counts, and being responsible for maintaining the parts warehouse for customers and coworkers.

Id., ¶ 9 (emphasis omitted). Additionally, Plaintiff was “involved in transacting business across state lines, including taking new orders from customers, ordering or receiving goods from out-of-state suppliers, handling accounting or bookkeeping for ordering or receiving goods, and handling credit card transactions.” Id. Plaintiff does not dispute this description, but emphasizes that he “required supervision to perform his employment tasks, and his job responsibilities remained essentially the same [despite his promotion.]” Doc. 28, ¶ 9.

         II. Legal Standard.

         A party seeking summary judgment “bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Summary judgment is appropriate if the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, 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). Summary judgment is also appropriate 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.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit will preclude the entry of summary judgment, and the disputed evidence must be “such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

         III. Analysis.

         “Under the FLSA, certain employers must pay their employees time and a half for work in excess of 40 hours per week[.]” In re Farmers Ins. Exch., Claims Representatives' Overtime Pay Litig., 481 F.3d 1119, 1127 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1)). The FLSA exempts some employees from its coverage, including Administrative Employees. 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1).

         “The FLSA delegates to the Secretary of Labor broad authority to define and delimit the scope of the administrative exemption.” In re Farmers, 481 F.3d at 1127. Regulations from the Secretary state that an individual is considered an Administrative Employee if he meets three criteria. 29 C.F.R. § 541.200(a). Only the third criterion is at issue here - whether Plaintiff is an employee whose “primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance.” § 541.200(a)(3). This determination must be made in “light of all the facts involved in the particular employment situation.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.202. The regulations lay out a list of non-exhaustive factors:

[1] whether the employee has authority to formulate, affect, interpret, or implement management policies or operating practices; [2] whether the employee carries out major assignments in conducting the operations of the business; [3] 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; [4] whether the employee has authority to commit the employer in matters that have significant financial impact; [5] whether the employee has authority to waive or deviate from established policies and procedures without prior approval; [6] whether the employee has authority to negotiate and bind the company on significant matters; [7] whether the employee provides consultation or expert advice to management; [8] whether the employee is involved in planning long- or short-term business ...

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