United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Van Tatenhove, United States District Judge.
from the Carroll County Fiscal Court fired Benjamin Watts
from his position as Carroll County Director of Parks and
Recreation. Watts then sued Carroll County Fiscal Court and
County Judge-Executive Bobby Lee Westrick for violations of
the Fair Labor Standards Act and Kentucky Wage and Hour Act.
The Defendants seek summary judgment, but because a genuine
issue of material fact remains on a number of Watts's
claims, the Court will GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART the
January 5, 2015, Benjamin Watts was hired as the Carroll
County Director of Parks and Recreation by County
Judge-Executive Bobby Lee Westrick. Although Watts was never
given a formal job description, Judge-Executive Westrick
stated that Watts's role as director would be to
“oversee the Park & Recs of the Carroll County
Park, completely.” [R. 23-1 at 8; R. 23-5 at 2.]
Despite this articulation of Watts's role, Westrick also
later informed Watts that he should not question or
second-guess the ways Westrick handled issues regarding other
park employees. [R. 24 at 4.] When asked to personally
describe his duties as director, Watts stated that they
included supervising and training park employees, even though
he never “technically supervise[d] anyone”, as
well as pursuing new Parks and Recreation programs.
[Id. at 3-6.]
experienced confusion over his wages a number of times during
his tenure as Carroll County Parks and Recreation Director.
When Watts was initially hired at the start of January 2015,
he was told the position was a $30, 000.00 per year salaried
role. Nevertheless, Watts was required to submit a time sheet
every week indicating how many hours he worked. [Id.
at 2.] Watts believed that, as a salary employee, he would
receive fifty-two equal paychecks over the course of the
year. But when he received his first paycheck on Friday,
January 9, 2015, it was for an amount less than he expected,
and he did not understand why. [Id. at 2-3.] Carroll
County Fiscal Court now explains that Watts's first
paycheck was simply pro-rated to reflect the fact that he
started his employment halfway through the week.
[See R. 25 at 7 (explaining the mathematics behind
Watts's weekly paycheck calculations).] Beyond that
incident, Watts received the amount of money he expected per
week going forward, and he continued as a salary employee for
the duration of 2015. [See R. 23-8.]
turn of the new year, though, things changed. On January 4,
2016, County Judge-Executive Westrick approached Watts and
asked him why he was reporting more than forty hours per week
on his time sheets. [R. 24 at 5.] Watts informed Westrick
that he was merely documenting the hours he worked every week
as originally instructed. [Id.] According to Watts,
Westrick then instructed him to keep track of any hours in
excess of forty “in his head” and to use those
hours as “comp time” rather than reporting it on
a time sheet. [Id.] This confused Watts, so he asked
both Judge-Executive Westrick and his personal lawyer to
further explain the matter.
Watts sought clarification from Westrick, Westrick sent Watts
a memorandum imposing new conditions of employment on his
Parks and Recreation position. The memorandum informed Watts
“that he had no supervisory authority and, thus, could
no longer work over forty hours per week without
[Westrick's] prior approval.” [Id.] The
new conditions also confined Watts to his office between the
hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., to ensure he worked only
forty hours per week. This posed a problem for Watts, as his
schedule was previously flexible enough to allow him to
attend to certain personal tasks like picking up his child
from school. [Id.] Watts was also classified as an
hourly employee, rather than a salaried one, going forward.
[Id. at 6.] According to Westrick, these new
conditions were imposed because of Watts's lackluster
performance as Parks and Recreation Director. [Id.
long after the new conditions were imposed, Watts was
terminated from his employment with Carroll County.
[Id. at 7.] Carroll County Fiscal Court officers
informed Watts that his position was no longer needed and
that “several issues” led to his discharge.
[Id.] Following his termination, Watts filed this
civil action alleging various violations of the Fair Labor
Standards Act and the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act from the
time he served as Director of Carroll County Parks and
Recreation, during which he frequently worked in excess of
forty hours per week but was never paid overtime
compensation. [See R. 1.] The Defendants Carroll
County Fiscal Court and Judge Executive Westrick, in his
official capacity, seek summary judgment on all of
Watts's claims. [R. 23.]
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is
appropriate where the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with any
affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A fact's
materiality is determined by the substantive law, and a
dispute is genuine if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving
party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S.
242, 248 (1986).
judgment is inappropriate where there is a genuine conflict
“in the evidence, with affirmative support on both
sides, and where the question is which witness to
believe.” Dawson v. Dorman, 528 F. App'x
450, 452 (6th Cir. 2013). “Credibility determinations,
the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate
inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a
judge.” Morales v. Am. Honda Motor Co., Inc.,
71 F.3d 531, 535 (6th Cir. 1995) (quoting Liberty
Lobby, 455 U.S. at 255). Further, the Court must view
all facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
nonmoving party.” See, e.g.,
Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 587.
County Fiscal Court moves for summary judgment on all of
Watts's claims. Specifically, Carroll County claims that
(A) Watts was not an “employee” for purposes of
the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and, thus,
not entitled to overtime compensation; (B) if Watts was an
“employee” under the FLSA, he was an exempt
employee who still was not entitled to overtime compensation;
and (C) Watts is not entitled to any relief under the
Kentucky Wage and Hour Act. The Court addresses each of these
arguments in turn.
Carroll County contends Watts was not an
“employee” under the FLSA. In general, the FLSA
requires employers to pay a minimum wage to all employees and
also requires employers to pay an overtime wage to employees
who work more than forty hours per workweek. See 29
U.S.C. §§ 206(a), 207(a). The FLSA excludes from
these requirements, however, certain individuals employed by
a state or political subdivision of a state, including any
(i) who is not subject to the civil service laws of the
State, political subdivision, or agency which ...