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Jones-Turner v. Yellow Enterprise Systems, LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

March 31, 2014

JANA CHRISTINE JONES-TURNER, ET AL., Plaintiff,
v.
YELLOW ENTERPRISE SYSTEMS, LLC, ET AL., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARELS R. SIMPSON, III, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion for summary judgment (DN 113) filed by Defendants Louisville Transportation Company ("LTC") and Yellow Enterprise Systems, LLC ("Yellow") (collectively "Defendants"), against Plaintiffs Jana Christine Jones-Turner ("Jones-Turner"), Penney Sherrard ("Sherrard"), and Wesley Vardeman ("Vardeman") (collectively "Plaintiffs"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant the motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Unless otherwise indicated, the following facts are undisputed. Plaintiffs are former employees of Defendants, for whom they worked as either ambulance drivers, dispatch operators, or both. Pursuant to Defendants' meal-break policy, employees were not allotted a specific period of time for eating lunch, but were instead expected to eat lunch during their free time in between ambulance runs. Accordingly, Defendants would automatically deduct thirty minutes of work time per shift from each employee's paycheck. In the event an employee was unable to take lunch because she was too busy, Defendants required the submission of a "missed lunch slip" to Yellow's Administrative Director Jan Baker, who would then review the slip and determine whether the employee should be compensated for the missed lunch break. Regardless of whether an employee submitted a missed lunch slip, however, Defendants maintained a daily "crew log" reflecting whether an employee had taken a lunch break during her shift.

During the course of their employment, Plaintiffs were regularly unable to take a lunch break due to Yellow's above-average call volume. Although Plaintiffs occasionally submitted missed lunch slips and were compensated accordingly, there were several instances where they failed to submit the slips and thus received an automatic deduction from their pay despite having worked through lunch.

In addition to their regular duties, Plaintiffs were frequently asked to volunteer as preceptors for Emergency Medical Technician ("EMT") training sessions conducted by Defendants. Although this sometimes required as many as twelve hours of work over the weekend, Plaintiffs were never compensated for the time spent acting as preceptors.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 29, 2007, Plaintiffs filed the present action in Jefferson County Circuit Court alleging that: 1) Defendants' failure to compensate them for lunch breaks and time spent as preceptors violated Kentucky and federal employment law; and 2) Defendants' failure to guarantee that they received lunch breaks violated Kentucky law. Specifically, Plaintiffs assert violations of KY. REV. STAT. ยงยง 337.355, 337.365, and 337.285, as well as the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). On April 19, 2007, Defendants removed the action to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. (DN 1). On July 22, 2013, Defendants filed the present motion for summary judgment (DN 113), arguing that Plaintiffs' claims fail as a matter of law because: 1) their lunch breaks are not compensable under the FLSA; and 2) even if their lunch breaks are compensable, Plaintiffs' failure to submit missed lunch slips in accordance with Defendants' policy precludes them from obtaining compensation for missed lunches.

Having considered the parties' briefs and being otherwise sufficiently advised, the Court will now address the motion for summary judgment.

STANDARD

Before granting a motion for summary judgment, the Court must find that there is no genuine issue of material fact such that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the nonexistence of any issue of material fact, Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986), a burden which may only be satisfied by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record..." or "showing that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). If the moving party satisfies this burden, the burden of production shifts to the non-moving party, who must then identify evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322.

In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-moving party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 378 (2007). However, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Thus, "[t]he mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the [non-moving party's] position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). If the nonmoving party fails to satisfy its burden of counterproduction, the court must grant the motion for summary judgment.

DISCUSSION

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