United States District Court, D. Nebraska
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. Gerrard United States District Judge
plaintiff, Bruce Friedman, has sued his former employer,
National Indemnity Company, for allegedly failing to pay him
overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
(FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. This matter is
before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for
partial summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below,
the Court will grant National Indemnity's motion for
partial summary judgment and deny Friedman's motion for
partial summary judgment.
following facts are not meaningfully disputed. National
Indemnity is an insurance provider located in Omaha,
Nebraska. Sometime in 2014, National Indemnity made the
decision to move from its midtown location to its current
location at 1314 Douglas Street. Filing 62 at 4. That move
required National Indemnity to build a centralized and secure
location for its operations (i.e., its data center).
See filing 63-2 at 39. But in order to transition
its IT network into the new data center, National Indemnity
needed to hire a "network engineer" to design and
implement the data center's network infrastructure--that
is, the hardware, layout and pathways connecting National
Indemnity's computers and servers. See filing
65-4 at 30; see also filing 68 at 2-3. So, in May
2015, National Indemnity hired Friedman, a network engineer
with experience in electronic network infrastructure. Filing
68 at 9; see also filing 65-4 at 23-25.
Friedman was hired, National Indemnity classified him as an
"exempt" employee under the FLSA. Filing 68 at 14.
In other words, Friedman was paid an annual salary of $95,
000.00, but was not entitled to overtime pay if and when he
worked more than forty hours in a given workweek.
See filing 65 at 4; filing 68 at 9; filing 63-8 at
4. According to Friedman, however, National Indemnity
improperly classified his employment status. Specifically,
Friedman alleges that his primary duties at National
Indemnity included physically moving equipment, laying
cables, and troubleshooting National Indemnity's computer
network--duties which, Friedman claims, do not constitute
exempt work under the FLSA. Filing 1 at 3; See also
filing 65 at 1, filing 65 at 5.
such, Friedman alleges that he is entitled to damages for
unpaid overtime, an equal amount of liquidated damages, and
attorneys' fees for National Indemnity's
misclassification. Filing 1 at 4. The parties have filed
cross-motions for partial summary judgment on Friedman's
claim that National Indemnity misclassified him as an exempt
employee under the FLSA.
judgment is proper if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.
R. Civ. P. 56(a). The movant bears the initial responsibility
of informing the Court of the basis for the motion, and must
identify those portions of the record which the movant
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Torgerson v. City of Rochester, 643
F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011) (en banc). If the movant does
so, the nonmovant must respond by submitting evidentiary
materials that set out specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial. Id.
motion for summary judgment, facts must be viewed in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is
a genuine dispute as to those facts. Id. Credibility
determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing
of legitimate inferences from the evidence are jury
functions, not those of a judge. Id. But the
nonmovant must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts. Id. In
order to show that disputed facts are material, the party
opposing summary judgment must cite to the relevant
substantive law in identifying facts that might affect the
outcome of the suit. Quinn v. St. Louis County, 653
F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2011). The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmovant's
position will be insufficient; there must be evidence on
which the jury could conceivably find for the nonmovant.
Barber v. C1 Truck Driver Training, LLC, 656 F.3d
782, 791-92 (8th Cir. 2011). Where the record taken as a
whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.
Torgerson, 643 F.3d at 1042.
briefly mentioned above, the parties have filed cross-motions
for partial summary judgment on Friedman's overtime
claim. That claim is premised on a provision of the FLSA
requiring employers to pay overtime wages to employees who
work more than forty hours during a given workweek.
See 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). But that provision
is also subject to numerous exemptions--three of which,
National Indemnity argues, apply to Friedman. See
filing 62 at 24; filing 62 at 39, filing 62 at 43.
Specifically, National Indemnity claims that the computer
employee, administrative exemption, and combination
exemptions, see29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1); 29 U.S.C.
§ 213(a)(17); 29 C.F.R. § 541.708, exempt Friedman
from overtime payments.
determining whether a particular FLSA exemption applies, the
amount of time devoted to exempt work presents factual
questions. Reich v. Avoca Motel Corp., 82 F.3d 238,
240 (8th Cir. 1996). But, the ultimate question of whether an
employee's particular activities excluded them from the
overtime benefits is a question of law. Spinden v. GS
Roofing Prods. Co., 94 F.3d 421, 426 (8th Cir. 1996).
And as the Supreme Court has recently made clear, exemptions
to the overtime requirement are to be given a "fair
reading." Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, 138
S.Ct. 1134, 1142 (2018). That is, those exemptions are not to
be construed narrowly. Id. With that understanding
in mind, the Court will consider whether Friedman qualifies
for any, or all, of the overtime exemptions claimed by
National Indemnity. See29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1);
29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(17).
Indemnity's first argument, that Friedman is exempt under
the "administrative" exemption, is easily disposed
of, so the Court will be begin there. See filing 62
at 40-41. The "administrative" exemption
specifically exempts employees whose "primary duty is
the performance of office or non-manual work directly related
to the management or general business operations of the
employer or the employer's customers" and
"includes the exercise of discretion and ...