United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Western Division
CRAIG COATES; MOLLY WARRINGTON; and EDWIN SMITH, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated PLAINTIFFS
DASSAULT FALCON JET CORPORATION DEFENDANT
OPINION AND ORDER
LEON HOLMES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiffs claim that Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation failed
to pay them overtime in accordance with the Fair Labor
Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., and
the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act, Ark. Code Ann. §
11-4-201, et. seq. Dassault has moved for summary
judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs are exempt employees
and not entitled to overtime wage protections. The plaintiffs
have also moved for partial summary judgment on the
inapplicability of the exemptions raised by Dassault.
should grant summary judgment if the evidence demonstrates
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden
of demonstrating the absence of a genuine dispute for trial.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the moving party
meets that burden, the nonmoving party must come forward with
specific facts that establish a genuine dispute of material
fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 1356, 89
L.Ed.2d 538 (1986); Torgerson v. City of Rochester,
643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). A genuine
dispute of material fact exists only if the evidence is
sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict in
favor of the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91
L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The Court must view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party and must give
that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that can
be drawn from the record. Pedersen v. Bio-Med.
Applications of Minn., 775 F.3d 1049, 1053 (8th Cir.
2015). If the nonmoving party fails to present evidence
sufficient to establish an essential element of a claim on
which that party bears the burden of proof, then the moving
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
relies on three FLSA exemptions that also apply to the AMWA:
the executive, administrative, and highly compensated
employee exemptions. Both sides agree that the executive and
administrative exemptions only apply where an employee is
compensated on a salary basis. Cf. 29 C.F.R.
§§ 541.100, 541.200. Subject to certain exceptions,
an employee is paid on a salary basis “if the employee
regularly receives each pay period . . . a predetermined
amount” that “is not subject to reduction because
of variations in the quality or quantity of the work
performed.” Id. § 541.602(a). The highly
compensated employee exemption applies if “[t]he
employee receives total annual compensation of at least the
annualized earnings amount of the 90th percentile of
full-time nonhourly workers nationally” and
“customarily and regularly performs any one or more of
the exempt duties or responsibilities of an executive,
administrative or professional employee.” Id.
§ 541.601(a). These exemptions are treated as
affirmative defenses, and the employer bears the burden of
proving that its employee falls within the asserted
exemption. Madden v. Lumber One Home Ctr., Inc., 745
F.3d 899, 903 (8th Cir. 2014).
plaintiffs in this collective action are divided into three
classes: team leaders, production liaisons, and office
personnel. Named plaintiff Craig Coates works as a team
leader; named plaintiff Edwin Smith works as a production
liaison; and named plaintiff Molly Warrington works as a
financial analyst and is office personnel. Dassault argues
that team leaders are executive, administrative, and highly
compensated employees, that production liaisons are
administrative employees, and that office personnel are
has not provided evidence that team leaders or production
liaisons were paid on a salary basis-a necessary element of
the executive and administrative employee exemptions. In its
brief it simply asserts that these employees were paid a
salary of at least $455 per week. Document #93 at 5 and 10.
The assertions, as they stand, are bald, as Dassault provides
no citation to the record for support. In its response to the
plaintiffs' interrogatories, on the other hand, Dassault
stated that “the Plaintiffs were paid a salary using an
hourly rate multiplied by hours [worked]” and described
the wage calculation as “Annual salary figure divided
by 2080 to arrive at Plaintiffs' hourly rate multiplied
by hours worked that period.” Document #83-2 at 4. But
for the word “salary, ” Dassault described wages
paid on an hourly basis and not wages constituting “a
predetermined amount . . . not subject to reduction because
of variations in the quality or quantity of the work
performed.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(a).
leaders and production liaisons clocked in and out, and
Dassault paid them according to the hours of work recorded.
For example, Coates's earnings report shows the type and
number of hours worked (regular, overtime, holiday, sick),
his hourly rate, and the total pay as a function of the hours
work and hourly rate. Document #83-10 at 2. Richard Cart,
Dassault's senior human resource generalist, confirmed
that team leaders and production liaisons were paid based on
the number of hours actually worked. Document #83-1 at 13. As
Cart explained, an employee that works less than 80 hours in
a two-week period will not be paid for 80 hours of work
unless they have vacation or sick time to supplement the
hours not worked. Id. at 11-12.
payroll records also affirmatively show that the team leaders
and production liaisons were not paid on a salary basis. For
the pay period ending on October 15, 2016, Smith was paid for
56.64 hours of “regular” work. Document #83-3 at
4. When this number is divided by 8 (the workday Dassault
used to calculate the hourly rate), there is a remainder,
meaning that Dassault reduced the base pay by partial days.
See 29 C.F.R. § 541.602(b)(1) (explaining that
employers may reduce a salaried employee's pay where the
employee is absent for one or more full days for personal
reasons, but where “an exempt employee is absent for
one and a half days for personal reasons, the employer can
deduct only for the one full-day absence”).
“[a]n employee is not paid on a salary basis if
deductions from the employee's predetermined compensation
are made for absences occasioned by the employer or by the
operating requirements of the business.” Id.
For example, the payroll records show that for the pay period
ending on January 8, 2017, Dassault reduced the pay of Smith
and another opt-in plaintiff due to “Christmas
shutdown.” Document #83-3 at 4; Document #83-5 at 1.
The regulations are clear that “[i]f the employee is
ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made
for time when work is not available.” 29 C.F.R. §
541.602(a). The deductions for “Christmas
shutdown” were not made prospectively, nor were they
due to economic conditions requiring cost saving measures.
Cf. In re Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 395 F.3d 1177 (10th
Cir. 2005), as amended on denial of reh'g (Feb.
has not shown that these deductions were isolated or made
inadvertently. See 29 C.F.R. § 541.603(c). The
facts demonstrate, and Dassault has produced no evidence to
show otherwise, that it intended to pay team leaders and
production liaisons on an hourly basis. See Id.
§ 541.603(a). Team leaders and production liaisons are
not paid a salary and do not qualify for the executive and
situation is different with office personnel. Molly
Warrington testified that she did not clock in and out but
that Dassault's payroll system automatically posted 8
hours per day for her, whether she worked 8 hours or not.
Document #91-3 at 38. Warrington testified both that she did
“not consider [herself] a salaried employee based on
[her] past history as a salaried employee” and that
Dassault paid her a salary. Id. at 49-50. The
plaintiffs agree that Warrington was paid a salary. Document
#104 at 15, ¶50. They maintain, however, that she and
other office personnel are nonexempt because office personnel
do not exercise discretion or independent judgment.
administrative employee exempt under the FLSA is an employee
“[w]hose primary duty includes the exercise of
discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters
of significance.” 29 C.F.R. § 541.200(a)(3). The
discretion and independent judgment relevant here
“involves the comparison and the evaluation of possible
courses of conduct, and acting or making a decision after the
various possibilities have been considered.”
Id. § 541.202(a). The evidence on whether
office personnel exercised discretion and independent
judgment is in conflict. Warrington and another financial
analyst, Amanda Thomas, testified that they did not have the
power to make any decision. Document #91-3 at 28; Document
#91-4 at 17. On the other hand, Thomas testified that she
“was tasked with identifying issues and trying to get
the information together that would support . . . my
suggestion to fix these issues that [she] would then give to
[her] management.” Id. at 15. While
“employees can exercise discretion and independent
judgment even if their decisions or recommendations are
reviewed at a higher level, ” the exercise of
discretion and independent judgment does not include
recording or tabulating data. 29 C.F.R. §§
541.202(c), (e). Dassault bears that burden of proving the
exemption applies, and it has not met that burden here.
next argues that team leaders are exempt as highly
compensated employees. It has not, however, provided evidence
that team leaders were paid more than $100, 000 annually for
years up to December 1, 2016, and more than $134, 004 after
December 1, 2016. Dassault relies on Coates's deposition
testimony where he agrees that he was paid $308, 000 between
June 2014 and June 2017. Document #91-1 at 57. There is no
yearly breakdown of pay, and no way for the Court to
determine whether Coates was paid above the required
threshold for each year. Another team leader, Robert Anderson,
testified that he earned more than $100, 000 his final year
at Dassault because of a severance package he was given;
otherwise, when asked whether his salary “would have
been close to a hundred thousand dollars, ” he
responded, “Roughly, yes.” Document #91-2 at 45.
Dassault has not met its burden to show that team leaders
were highly compensated employees during the relevant period.
Dassault sets its sights on damages. It first argues that
office personnel cannot prove damages and so their claims
must be dismissed. This argument is without merit. As
Warrington testified, her time was automatically logged by
Dassault's payroll system. She also testified that the
recorded time did not accurately reflect the number of hours
she worked. She testified that a record of her true hours
worked could be made from her gate scans when arriving and
leaving work for the day, her computer work, and notes of her
actual time worked that she kept covering some period of
time. Document #91-3 at 37-38. Employees that are
misclassified as exempt by employers under the FLSA are