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Alonzo v. Akal Security Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 12, 2019

Ed E. Alonzo, Plaintiff,
Akal Security Incorporated, Defendant.


          Honorable John J. Tuchi United States District Judge

         At issue is Defendant Akal Security, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 68, Mot.) supported by Defendant's Statement of Facts (Doc. 69, DSOF), to which Plaintiff Ed E. Alonzo filed a Response (Doc. 75, Resp.) and responsive Statement of Facts (Doc. 76, PSOF) and Defendant filed a Reply (Doc. 83, Reply)[1]. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendant is a federal government contractor, and Plaintiff worked for Defendant as an Aviation Security Officer (“ASO”). (DSOF ¶ 2.) ASOs are responsible for the supervision of persons being expelled from the United States, or “deportees, ” during both domestic travel between holding facilities and international travel to the deportees' home countries. (DSOF ¶ 1.) Once the deportees are transported abroad, ASOs travel on a return flight to the United States. (PSOF ¶ 3.)

         Defendant maintained a written Timekeeping Policy for ASOs, and Plaintiff testified that he read and understood the Timekeeping Policy. (DSOF ¶¶ 6, 8.) In pertinent part, the Policy provided for a one-hour unpaid meal period during certain return flights when no deportees were present, with a few exceptions not relevant here. (DSOF ¶ 6.) Plaintiff signed an Employee Offer Letter with Defendant that similarly set forth a one-hour unpaid meal period policy. (DSOF ¶¶ 9-10.) Moreover, Defendant and the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement that included a comparable unpaid meal period policy. (DSOF ¶¶ 14-16.) Plaintiff was a party to that Collective Bargaining Agreement as a member and officer of the Union. (DSOF ¶ 13.)

         Defendant's Timekeeping Policy instructed ASOs to completely disengage from all work duties during the meal period. (DSOF ¶¶ 6-7.) Defendant required ASOs to record time worked during meal periods if special circumstances necessitated that an ASO perform work during these periods. (DSOF ¶¶ 6-7.) The Policy further mandated that the ASO notify his/her supervisor if such a situation arose. (DSOF ¶ 7.) Plaintiff testified that he never recorded any time worked during a meal period. (DSOF ¶ 22.) However, at least in the Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that an “ASO may not take any lunch break” and Defendant deducted one hour of compensation from his/her pay anyway. (Doc. 1, Compl. ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiff brought this case as a hybrid class action, (Compl.; Doc. 44), and the Court denied Plaintiff's Motion to Certify a Conditional Class because Plaintiff failed to show that other ASOs alleged that they worked without compensation during their meal breaks. (Doc. 51.) Additionally, the Court dismissed two counts of Plaintiff's Complaint for failure to state a claim. (Doc. 27.) In the remaining count-Count II-Plaintiff alleges that Defendant's automatic one-hour pay deduction for meal periods, deducted regardless of whether Plaintiff took a meal period or worked through the hour, violated the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (Compl. ¶¶ 14, 36-39.) Defendant now moves for summary judgment on the remaining claim.


         Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate when: (1) the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact; and (2) after viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party, the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987). Under this standard, “[o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing [substantive] law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A “genuine issue” of material fact arises only “if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

         In considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must regard as true the non-moving party's evidence, if it is supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. However, the non-moving party may not merely rest on its pleadings; it must produce some significant probative evidence tending to contradict the moving party's allegations, thereby creating a material question of fact. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57 (holding that the plaintiff must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment); First Nat'l Bank of Ariz. v. Cities Serv. Co., 391 U.S. 253, 289 (1968).

         “A summary judgment motion cannot be defeated by relying solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by factual data.” Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). “Summary judgment must be entered ‘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.'” United States v. Carter, 906 F.2d 1375, 1376 (9th Cir. 1990) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Defendant moves for summary judgment on Plaintiff's claim for unpaid overtime wages accrued during one-hour meal periods. In support, Defendant argues that the evidence undisputedly demonstrates that Plaintiff received bona fide meal breaks of at least one hour on the designated flights and that, under the parties' agreements, Plaintiff's meal period was non-compensable. Defendant thus contends that Plaintiff cannot meet his burden to show that the meal periods are compensable. Defendant also maintains that, if Defendant is liable for an FLSA violation, Plaintiff is not entitled to liquidated damages because Defendant relied in good faith on the advice of counsel.

         In response, Plaintiff argues that a genuine dispute of fact exists as to whether he worked during the unpaid meal period on the designated flights, precluding summary judgment. As such, the Court must determine if Plaintiff has raised a genuine dispute regarding whether he received one-hour bona fide ...

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