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Ramirez-Mendoza v. International Pallet, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 15, 2014

JOEL RAMIREZ-MENDOZA, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL PALLET, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

R. DAVID PROCTOR, District Judge.

This case is before the court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 49), filed on April 9, 2014. The issues have been fully briefed. (Docs. # 53, 55).[1] For the reasons outlined below, Defendant's Motion (Doc. # 49) is due to be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Procedural History

This case has been substantially affected by the tumultuous relationship between Plaintiff's and Defendant's counsel. Plaintiff filed his Complaint (Doc. # 1) on March 19, 2013 against Defendant alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. ("FLSA"). Plaintiff seeks payment for unpaid wages, overtime, and liquidated damages. (Doc. # 1 at 1). Defendant filed an Answer and Counterclaim (Doc. # 7) refuting Plaintiff's allegations of any FLSA violation and counterclaiming for fraud and breach of contract.

On April 9, 2014, following several rounds of contentious discovery in this case, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. # 49), which is the subject of this Memorandum Opinion. The Motion (Doc. # 49) has been fully briefed. (Docs. # 53, 55). Although Defendant frames its Motion (Doc. # 49) as a "Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment, " Defendant supports its statement of facts with deposition testimony, documents, and various other types of evidence found outside the pleadings. Accordingly, the court finds the Motion (Doc. # 49) is one seeking summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).[2]

II. Facts[3]

Plaintiff Joel Ramirez-Mendoza ("Plaintiff") worked as a laborer for Defendant International Pallet, Inc. ("Defendant") during two separate, but indeterminate, time periods. (Doc. # 53, Ex. A-1, Ramirez-Mendoza Aff. ¶ 1-4). Plaintiff suggests he first began working for Defendant in 2007, performing the job of breaking down pallets. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 14, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. 96:17-20; Doc. # 53, Ex. A-1, Ramirez-Mendoza Aff. ¶ 1). Defendant claims that Plaintiff worked on and off for less than three months beginning in February 2008 and ending in September 2008. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Foster Dep. 100:22-101:17). Specifically, Defendant offers evidence suggesting Plaintiff worked one week in February, one week in July, and one day in September. ( Id. ) Plaintiff was paid $320 per workweek. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 14, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. 100:3-6, 100:17-22).

Plaintiff claims he worked fifty-five hours per workweek. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 14, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. 100:23-101:1). On weekdays, Plaintiff contends that he worked from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with two forty-five minute breaks - i.e., ten hours a weekday. ( Id. at 101:12-23). On Saturdays, Plaintiff claims he worked five hours. ( Id. at 101:19-24). On or around September 12, 2008, Plaintiff was terminated. ( Id. at 96:17-20, 97:5-6, 102:19-22). Defendant argues Plaintiff was terminated for cause - he was insubordinate and failed to show up to work. (Doc. # 49 at 14 ¶ 1; see also Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Foster Dep. 82:6-11). Defendant also contends Plaintiff was paid in full compliance with the FLSA.

Subsequently, Plaintiff applied to work for Defendant under the name Amilcar Vasquez and presented Defendant with false information in his employment application. ( See Doc. # 49, Exs. 6-9 (falsified employment documents); Doc. # 53, Ex. A-1, Ramirez-Mendoza Aff. ¶ 4). Plaintiff's documentation included, among other things, a false social security card and a false U.S. Permanent Resident Card. (Doc. # 49 at 14 ¶ 2-3; see Doc. # 49, Exs. 3, 5).

In March 2010, Plaintiff returned to work for Defendant. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 2, at 2; Doc. # 49, Ex. 14, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. 105:8-13). Defendant hired Plaintiff under the name Amilcar Vasquez and maintained personnel files different and separate from Plaintiff's prior employment records for Joel Ramirez-Mendoza. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 2, at 2; Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Foster Dep. 103:11-15). Defendant has presented pay stubs for Amilcar Vasquez beginning in April 23, 2010 (Doc. # 49, Ex. 13, at 1), and has records of cash disbursement to him from as early as March 26, 2010. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 2, at 1). But these documents do not purport to log the hours that Plaintiff worked. During this time, Plaintiff began making $350 per workweek, (Doc. # 49, Ex. 14, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. 105:18-22; see also Doc. # 49, Ex. 2, at 2; Doc. # 49, Ex. 13, at 35-56). In 2012, it appears that Plaintiff made as much as $420 per workweek. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 2, at 6-8; Doc. # 49, Ex. 13, at 87-127).

During his second stint with Defendant, Plaintiff claims he worked the same hours as he did in 2008. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 14, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. 107:14-108:13). Defendant, however, has offered evidence suggesting Plaintiff's working schedule was as follows:

Monday to Friday from 6:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. with two breaks of one (1) hour each, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If he worked on a Saturday his work schedule was four (4) hours. If he worked full time his work-week would be forty hours, and for the week that he worked on Saturday his full week will be forty four hours.

(Doc. # 49 at 15 ¶ 5; see Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Foster Dep. 25:23-26:6, 70:6-71:5, 74:2-21, 83:22-84:2, 86:14-87:7, 100:7-16, 103:16-21; Doc. # 49, Ex. 17, Gregorio Velazquez Dep. 20:21-28:2).

Defendant supports this claim by suggesting it maintained a practice where a supervisor would report to Defendant's secretary in charge of payroll, Debbie Foster, when workers did not work or show up; otherwise, the worker was paid in full. (Doc. # 49 at 15 ¶ 6; Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Foster Dep. 70:22-71:5, 100:7-16). After receiving the supervisor's report, Ms. Foster issued a payroll check to the workers. (Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Foster Dep. 70:22-71:5, 100:7-16). In accordance with this practice, Defendant argues "Vazquez was found several times leaving work when the supervisor was not there and showed up sometime before 4:30 so he could be registered as having been working the whole day." (Doc. # 49 at 15 ¶ 8). Defendant also claims Plaintiff's testimony suggests he admits being paid for days he did not work. ( See Doc. # 49, Ex. 16, Ramirez-Mendoza Dep. ...


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