United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
DAVID PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Entry of Judgment on the Jury's Verdict and an Award of
Liquidated Damages. (Doc. # 84). In her motion, Plaintiff
moves for entry of judgment pursuant to the jury's
verdict. (Id. at p. 1). Plaintiff further
moves the court to award liquidated damages. (Id.).
Plaintiff's motion is due to be granted in part and
denied in part.
jury found that Plaintiff proved by a preponderance of the
evidence that (1) she worked in excess of forty hours in a
week in at least one workweek and was not paid for that
overtime, (2) Defendant actually or constructively knew that
Plaintiff worked over 40 hours in at least one workweek
without pay, and (3) Defendant failed to pay Plaintiff
overtime pay as required by law. (Doc. # 82 at pp. 1-2). And,
the jury found that Defendant did not establish by a
preponderance of the evidence that the unpaid work over forty
hours per week was de minimis. (Id. at p.
2). Given the jury's specific findings regarding the
number of overtime hours worked, and the parties'
stipulations about the applicable overtime rates, judgment is
due to be entered in the amount $5, 355.72 for Plaintiff.
the jury finds an employer has violated the overtime
provision of the FLSA and assesses compensatory damages, the
district court generally must add an award of liquidated
damages in the same amount, which doubles the total damages
awarded.” Alvarez Perez v. Sanford-Orlando Kennel
Club, Inc., 515 F.3d 1150, 1163 (11th Cir. 2008).
However, there is a good faith defense to such a liquidated
damage award. The court retains the discretion to reduce
or deny an award of liquidated damages if the defendant acted
in good faith and had reasonable grounds for believing its
act or omission was not in violation of the FLSA.
Id. (citing 29 U.S.C. § 260). The employer
bears the burden of proving both the objective and subjective
components of the good faith defense. Id.
the jury found that Plaintiff failed to prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that Defendant knew or showed
reckless disregard for whether the FLSA prohibited its
conduct. (Doc. # 82 at p. 2). To be sure, this finding does
not preclude the court from determining that Defendant failed
to meet its burden of establishing its good faith defense.
Rodriguez v. Farm Stores Grocery, Inc., 518 F.3d
1259, 1274 (11th Cir. 2008) (reasoning that a “finding
that willfulness was not present may co-exist peacefully with
a finding that good faith was not present” when the
evidence is in exact equipoise, and neither party has met its
burden of proof). However, the jury's finding is
nonetheless instructive here.
evidence presented at trial demonstrates that Defendant has
met its burden of proof in establishing a good faith defense.
Defendant presented substantial and unrebutted evidence of
its policies related to overtime work. Defendant trained its
employees on its policies, wage and hour compliance, and use
of the eTime time-recording system. Defendant presented
evidence of its policies prohibiting employees from working
off-the-clock, and Plaintiff admitted that she herself knew
that Defendant's policies prohibited employees from
working during meal breaks.
provided Plaintiff the opportunity to review and correct her
time records each pay period, and Plaintiff admitted at trial
that her supervisor, Nicole Johnson, sent an email each pay
period reminding employees to approve their time cards and
inform her of any errors contained therein. While Plaintiff
testified that she told Johnson that she worked during her
meal breaks, Plaintiff admitted that she did not tell any
other management about her off-the-clock work and did not
tell Johnson that she was not recording the overtime she was
working on her lunch breaks. Moreover, Defendant paid
Plaintiff all of the overtime work which Plaintiff recorded
during the period leading up to the commencement of this
evidence at trial sufficiently established that Defendant
subjectively believed that it paid Plaintiff what she was
owed, and Defendant's good faith was objectively
reasonable. Plaintiff recorded certain overtime hours which
she worked on a number of occasions during the relevant time
period, and Defendant paid her for all of the time which she
reported. Defendant could have reasonably believed that
Plaintiff was recording all of the overtime hours which she
worked. Moreover, a defendant may rely on its timekeeping
policies in support of its good faith defense.
Ojeda-Sanchez v. Bland Farms, LLC, 499 F.App'x
897, 903 (11th Cir. 2012) (“[t]he safeguards it set up
provided Defendant an objectively reasonable basis” for
its belief that it was abiding by the FLSA's
requirements). Here, Defendant's reliance on its
employees to follow its policies and report time worked was
reasonable under the circumstances.
argues that the jury's finding that Plaintiff worked
unpaid overtime prevents the court from making a good faith
finding. (See Doc. # 89 at p. 3). The court
disagrees. In fact, the jury specifically found that, while
Defendant actually or constructively knew that Plaintiff
worked over forty hours in at least one workweek without pay,
Plaintiff did not establish that Defendant knew or showed
reckless disregard for whether the FLSA prohibited its
conduct. This case is not one of the few and rare cases where
the evidence on the good faith issue sits in equipoise.
Rather, Defendant affirmatively put forth convincing evidence
at trial that proved its good faith defense.
Defendant proved that it acted in good faith, the court has
discretion to reduce or deny an award of liquidated damages
in this case. The court exercises that discretion here, and
denies liquidated damages in this action. A separate final
judgment will be entered contemporaneously with this opinion.
 Specifically, Plaintiff seeks $5,
355.72 -- the total value of the unpaid overtime hours jury
found Plaintiff to have been worked during the two-year
period prior to the filing of her Complaint -- as well as ...