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Kolish v. Metal Technologies, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

March 30, 2018

FANNIE M. KOLISH, KEVIN GRAVES, Plaintiffs,
v.
METAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          Hon. Jane Magntts-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         After this Court declined to certify a proposed subclass in the related pending matter Weil v. M Technologies, Inc., 2016 WL 286396 (S.D. Ind. 2016), Plaintiffs Fannie Kolish and Kevin Graves filed a Complaint in this case against Defendant M Technologies, Inc. (“M Technologies”). The operative First Amended Complaint asserts claims against M Technologies for failure to pay wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Indiana Wage Payment Statute (“IWPS”). [Filing No. 82.] Presently pending before the Court is M Technologies' Motion for Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 86.] For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART M Technologies' Motion.

         I.

         Background

         A. Factual Background

         M Technologies is a manufacturing facility located in Bloomfield, Indiana that manufactures automobile parts for companies such as General Motors, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Honda. [Filing No. 87-1 at 7.] Manufacturing employees work one of three shifts: first shift, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; second shift, from 3:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.; or third shift, from 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. [Filing No. 87-1 at 10.] The shifts overlap by 30 minutes, and during that overlapping time, employees are relieved of their duties by the next shift's employees, and they use the remaining time to clean up their work areas and exchange information about the previous shift. [Filing No. 87-3 at 11-2; Filing No. 87-4 at 16-17.] Ms. Kolish worked for M Technologies as a parts inspector on the first shift, beginning at 7:00 a.m. [Filing No. 87-3 at 6; Filing No. 87-3 at 12.] Mr. Graves worked as an inspector on the “Theta cell, ” initially during the third shift, and eventually on the first shift. [Filing No. 87-4 at 8; Filing No. 87-5 at 3.]

         Metal Technologies used an electronic time clock to record the time that each employee clocked in and out. [Filing No. 89-2 at 58.] On weekdays, employees were required to take a 30-minute unpaid lunch break, for which they were instructed to clock in and out. [Filing No. 89-2 at 58; Filing No. 89-4 at 10; Filing No. 89-4 at 63.] M Technologies did not calculate employees' pay based on their time-clock punches, but instead paid employees based on their scheduled shift times, minus an automatically deducted thirty-minute lunch break. [Filing No. 87-1 at 11.] So employees were typically paid for eight working hours per day. [Filing No. 87-1 at 11.] Kirbie Conrad, M Technologies' Human Resources Manager, orally informed employees at the beginning of their employment that if they worked beyond their scheduled shift times, they should complete an overtime authorization form.[1] [Filing No. 87-2 at 2.]

         Metal Technologies had an Employee Manual (the “Manual”), which was provided to and discussed with all new employees. [Filing No. 87-2 at 3; Filing No. 87-1 at 14-15.] The first page of the Manual states that “[t]he policies in this Manual are to be considered guidelines. M Technologies, Inc. (MTI), at its option, may change, delete, suspend or discontinue any part or parts of the policies in this Manual at any time without prior notice. … Employees may not accrue eligibility for monetary benefits that they have not earned through actual time spent at work.” [Filing No. 87-2 at 3.] The Manual also included the following sections relevant to the instant motion:

Business Hours
Our regular office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Your particular hours of work and the scheduling of your lunch period will be determined and assigned by your Plant Manager or shift supervisor. Most employees are assigned to work a 40-hour workweek. You are required to take a 30-minute unpaid lunch period daily. Please understand that you may not "work though lunch" in order to arrive late or to leave early or to work extra time, unless approved by the Plant Manager.

[Filing No. 89-2 at 7];

Work Schedule & Rules
The normal workweek consists of five (5) days, eight (8) hours long, Monday through Friday. You will be notified promptly whenever a change is necessaiy. Should you have any questions concerning your work schedule, please ask your shift supervisor or Plant Manager.

[Filing No. 89-2 at 38];

Error in Pay
Every effort is made to avoid errors in your paycheck. If you believe an error has been made, tell accounting immediately. He or she wilt take the necessary steps to research the problem and to assure that any necessary corrections are made properly and promptly. We will then adjust your check the following week.

[Filing No. 89-2 at 56];

Overtime Pay
From time to time, it may be necessary for you to perform overtime work in order to complete a job on time. The Plant Manager must approve all overtime in advance. When it is necessary to work overtime, you are expected to cooperate as a condition of your employment. There are two types of overtime work;
• Scheduled Overtime: Scheduled overtime work is announced in advance and generally will involve an entire department or operation. This type of overtime becomes pail of the required workweek of the people who are members of the department or operation. If you need to be excused from performing scheduled overtime, please speak with your group leader or Shift Supervisor. He or she will consider your situation and the requirements of the department or operation in deciding whether you may be excused from performing the scheduled overtime.
• Incidental Overtime: Incidental overtime is not scheduled; it becomes necessary in response to extenuating circumstances. It is extra time needed to complete work normally completed during regular hours. Incidental overtime may become necessary
when an illness or emergency keeps co-workers from being at work as anticipated. It may require you to return to the workplace for emergency work. The opportunity to perform incidental overtime will be given first to the employee who normally performs the task. If that employee cannot perform the overtime, the Plant Manager will offer the overtime to a suitably qualified person who is available to perform the overtime work.
You will be paid one and one-half (1-1/2) times your regular hourly wage for any time over forty (40) hours per week that you work. If, during that week, you were away from the job because of a paid holiday or vacation taken in single-day increments those hours will he counted as hours worked for the purpose of computing eligibility for overtime pay.

[Filing No. 89-2 at 56-57];

Time Clock Records
By law, we are obligated to keep accurate records of the time worked by employees. This is doDe by either time clocks or other written documentation.
Your time punch is the only way the payroll department knows how many hours you worked and how much to pay you. Your time punch indicates when you arrived and when you departed. Yon are to punch in and out for lunch and for brief absences like a doctor or dentist's appointment. All employees are required to keep Human Resources, their cell leader or Shift Supervisor advised of their departures from and returns to the premises during the workday.
You are responsible for your time punch. Remember to record your time. If you forget to punch in or make an error on youxpuneh, a '4missed punch form" mast be filled out with the Shift Supervisor or ceil leader initials next to it far approval and Human Resources must be notified. Cell leader and Shift Supervisor time tickets require the Plant Manager's approval. You are not permitted to punch in more than 15 minutes before your scheduled starting time nor more than 15 minutes after your scheduled quirting time without the group leader or Shift Supervisor's approvai. This would be considered unapproved overtime.
No one may record hours worked on another's punch or time slip for any reason. Tampering with yours or another's time punch is eause for disciplinary action, including possible immediate dismissal, of both employees. Do not alter another person's record, or influence anyone else to alter your record for you. In the event of an error in recording your time, please report the matter to Human Resources, your group leader, or your Shift Supervisor immediately.

[Filing No. 89-2 at 58].

         B. Procedural History

         This case is related to the pending matter Weil v. M Technologies, Inc., 2016 WL 286396 (S.D. Ind. 2016), and arose as a result of the Court's treatment of class and collective action certification in Weil. Generally, Weil involves a series of claims raised by employees of M Technologies for unpaid wages and wage deductions. One proposed subclass in Weil was comprised of employees whom M Technologies had allegedly failed to compensate or had allegedly undercompensated for work performed during meal breaks. The Court denied class certification to that Weil subclass, concluding that the named Plaintiffs were not adequate class representatives. Weil v. M Technologies, Inc., 260 F.Supp.3d 1002 (S.D. Ind. 2017). Ms. Kolish and Mr. Graves then filed their Complaint in this case, raising a class and collective action lawsuit limited to the meal break claims. [Filing No. 1.] Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Certify a Combined Class Action and FLSA Collective Action, [Filing No. 41], which this Court denied, [Filing No. 62].

         Plaintiffs then proceeded individually against M Technologies and filed the operative First Amended Complaint. [Filing No. 82.] The First Amended Complaint alleges violations in addition to unpaid lunch breaks, including several of the claims previously raised in Weil. Plaintiffs challenge M Technologies' timekeeping and payroll practices-namely, that M Technologies pays employees based on their scheduled shift times, not based on their time-clock punches, and that M Technologies automatically deducts a 30-minute lunch break, regardless of employees' clock-outs and clock-ins. The First Amended Complaint alleges (1) failure to pay overtime wages as required by the FLSA; and (2) violation of the IWPS, including unpaid wages, illegally rounded wages, and unpaid wages for shortened or missed lunch breaks. [Filing No. 82 at 12-13.]

         Presently pending before the Court is M Technologies' Motion for Summary Judgment, [Filing No. 86], which is fully briefed and ripe for the Court's review.

         II.

         Legal ...


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