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Evans v. Encore Event Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 14, 2017

MECHELLE EVANS, Plaintiff,
v.
ENCORE EVENT TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a Nevada corporation, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Gloria M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Mechelle Evans's (“Plaintiff's”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 13). Defendant Encore Event Technologies, Inc. (“Defendant”) filed a Response (ECF No. 19), and Plaintiff filed a Reply (ECF No. 24).

         Also pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14), to which Plaintiff filed a Response (ECF No. 17), and Defendant filed a Reply (ECF No. 27).[1]

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies both Motions for Summary Judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a wage dispute between Defendant employer and Plaintiff former employee. Defendant is a company that provides audio-visual (“AV”) products for conventions and conferences at Las Vegas hotels. Plaintiff worked as an Account Executive for Defendant from June 2012 to May 2015. (Compl. ¶¶ 7, 8, ECF No. 1). During this time, Plaintiff was classified as an exempt employee for purposes of the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 29 U.S.C. § 207. Plaintiff alleges that this classification was inaccurate based on her job duties, and she seeks back-pay for the many hours above forty that she allegedly worked each week while employed as an Account Executive for Defendant. (Id. ¶¶ 9-13). Plaintiff also seeks an additional thirty days' wages as a penalty for Defendant's alleged violation of NRS § 608.040, which requires employers to pay all wages due at the time an employee resigns, quits, or is discharged. (Id. ¶¶ 17-21).

         On June 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed her case in this Court. (See Compl.). On August 12, 2015, Defendant filed its Answer. (Answer to Compl., ECF No. 7). Then, on March 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed her Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 13), and the following day, Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14). These cross-motions center on whether Plaintiff's prior job duties constitute an exempt or non-exempt classification for purposes of the FLSA overtime provision, specifically under the administrative employee exemption. Plaintiff argues that her position was “sales and service, ” “75 percent of her work was clerical in nature, ” with the “essential functions [as] . . . sales, data entry, securing contracts and collecting payments, setting up rooms for business meetings and shows, and even helping the hotel staff clean the room when turnaround times were too brief.” (Pl. Mot. Partial Summ. J. (“Pl. MPSJ”) 4:23-5:10, ECF No. 13). Defendant contends that Plaintiff “negotiated contracts with clients on behalf of [Defendant] with no prior authorization or approval needed[, ] and that 75% of her time as an Account Executive was spent managing client contracts where she would investigate matters and respond to client's requests and proposed changes to the contract.” (Def. Mot. Summ. J. (“Def. MSJ”) 2:16-20, ECF No. 14).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for summary adjudication when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those that may affect the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Id. “Summary judgment is inappropriate if reasonable jurors, drawing all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor.” Diaz v. Eagle Produce Ltd. P'ship, 521 F.3d 1201, 1207 (9th Cir. 2008) (citing United States v. Shumway, 199 F.3d 1093, 1103-04 (9th Cir. 1999)). A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted). Then, “the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case.” Id. In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323- 24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159-60 (1970).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.

         At summary judgment, a court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmovant is “to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255. But if the evidence of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See Id. at 249-50.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. FLSA Overtime Claim

         The FLSA was created to provide a uniform national policy of guaranteeing compensation for all work or employment covered by the act. Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., Inc., 450 U.S. 728, 741 (1981). The FLSA grants individual employees broad access to the courts and permits an action to recover minimum wages, overtime compensation, liquidated damages, or injunctive relief. Id. at 740.

         However, the overtime provision of the FLSA does not apply to “any employee employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity . . . (as such terms are defined and delimited from time to time by regulations of the [s]ecretary).” 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1). The regulations clarify that an “employee in a bona fide administrative capacity” refers to an employee that is:

(1) Compensated on a salary or fee basis at a rate of not less than $455 per week . . . exclusive of board, lodging ...

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