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Williams v. Genex Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 4, 2014

NANCY A. WILLIAMS Plaintiff.
v.
GENEX SERVICES, INC. Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARVIN J. GARBIS, District Judge.

The Court has before it Defendant GENEX Services, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment with Regard to the Claims of Plaintiff Nancy A. Williams [Document 14] and the materials submitted relating thereto. The Court finds a hearing unnecessary.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant GENEX Services, Inc. ("GENEX") has been, at all times relevant hereto, a provider of integrated managed care services. In 2011, Plaintiff Nancy A. Williams ("Williams"), a registered nurse, began her employment with GENEX as a field medical case manager. Since then, Williams has received a weekly salary of at least $1, 442.36. Her total compensation, including incentive compensation, was $83, 354.14 in 2012 and $81, 103.29 in 2013.

Williams claims that GENEX was required to pay her for overtime. She has sued GENEX under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq., and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law ("MWHL"), Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-401 et seq., for failing to pay her for the overtime hours that she worked. GENEX contends that Williams is an "exempt employee" who is not entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA and MWHL.

By the instant motion, GENEX seeks summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT

A motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the pleadings and supporting documents "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).

The well-established principles pertinent to summary judgment motions can be distilled to a simple statement: The Court may look at the evidence presented in regard to a motion for summary judgment through the non-movant's rose-colored glasses, but must view it realistically. After so doing, the essential question is whether a reasonable fact finder could return a verdict for the non-movant or whether the movant would, at trial, be entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett , 477 U.S. 317, 322-323 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. , 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Shealy v. Winston , 929 F.2d 1009, 1012 (4th Cir. 1991).

Thus, in order "[t]o defeat a motion for summary judgment, the party opposing the motion must present evidence of specific facts from which the finder of fact could reasonably find for him or her." Mackey v. Shalala , 43 F.Supp.2d 559, 564 (D. Md. 1999) (emphasis added). However, "self-serving, conclusory, and uncorroborated statements are insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact." Int'l Waste Indus. Corp. v. Cape Envtl. Mgmt., Inc., 988 F.Supp.2d 542, 558 n.11 (D. Md. 2013); see also Wadley v. Park at Landmark, LP , 264 F.App'x 279, 281 (4th Cir. 2008).

When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, the Court must bear in mind that the "[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.'" Celotex , 477 U.S. at 327 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

III. STATUTORY FRAMEWORK

A. General Overtime Wage Requirements

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") "requires that employees be paid time and a half for work over forty hours a week." Shockley v. City of Newport News , 997 F.2d 18, 21 (4th Cir. 1993) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1)). The Maryland Wage and Hour Law ("MWHL") has a similar overtime wage requirement. See Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-415(a), 3-420(a).

B. Exemptions

"The FLSA, and, by extension, the MWHL, exempt certain employees from the requirements of overtime wages, including employees in a bona fide... administrative, or professional capacity." Drubetskoy v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., CIV. CCB-13-2196, 2013 WL 6839508 (D. Md. Dec. 20, 2013); see also 29 U.S.C. § 213(a)(1); Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-403(1). "Professional capacity" and "administrative capacity" have the same meanings under the regulations governing the MWHL as they do under the FLSA regulations. See Md. Code Regs. 09.12.41.01, 09.12.41.17. Thus, an employee who qualifies for the professional or administrative exemption under the FLSA will also qualify for that exemption under the MWHL.

The FLSA exemptions "are affirmative defenses to an FLSA claim, " and they must "be narrowly construed against the employers seeking to assert them and their application limited to those establishments plainly and unmistakably within their terms and spirit." Arnold v. Ben Kanowsky, Inc. , 361 U.S. 388, 392 (1960); Smith v. ABC Training Ctr. of Maryland, Inc., No. JFM-13-306, 2013 WL 3984630, at *9 (D. Md. Aug. 1, 2013). The burden of proof is on the employer to establish "by clear and convincing evidence that an employee qualifies for exemption." Shockley , 997 F.2d at 21; see also Clark v. J.M. Benson Co., Inc. , 789 F.2d 282, 286 (4th Cir. 1986).

How an employee spends her time working - i.e. what she does while at work - "is a question of fact." See Icicle Seafoods, Inc. v. Worthington , 475 U.S. 709, 714 (1986). But, whether an employee's "particular activities excluded [her] from the overtime benefits of the FLSA is a question of law." Id . Thus, "[t]he determination of whether an employee falls within the scope of a FLSA exemption is ultimately a legal question." Walton v. Greenbrier Ford, Inc. , 370 F.3d 446, 450 (4th Cir. 2004).

IV. DISCUSSION

A. GENEX

GENEX "is the nation's leading provider of integrated managed care services, " and it seeks "to provide the highest quality disability management and medical cost-containment services in the industry." Compl. ¶ 9; [Document 15-10] at 2. GENEX accomplishes this through case management, which is "the process of reeducating and re-adapting persons after they have suffered a disabling injury, disease, or disorder." [Document 15-3] at 3. Medical case management aims to "provid[e] the best medical care for the best long range effect for the ill/injured person at the most reasonable cost in the shortest amount of time." Id. at 4.

GENEX employs medical case managers to act as the "coordinator[s] of medical care and service." [Document 15-4] at 4. A field medical case manager ("FMCM") works "in the field, " rather than in an office. FMCMs "assist the ill/injured person in an effort to reduce disability, medical expenses and extended unemployment." Id . An FMCM does not provide hands-on direct patient care, but instead is "[r]esponsible for assessment, planning, coordination, implementation and evaluation of injured/disabled individuals involved in the medical case management process." Id .; [Document 20-5] at 2.

The GENEX Job Description states that an FMCM's duties include, inter alia:

"Us[ing] clinical/nursing skills to help coordinate the individual's treatment program while maximizing cost containment;"
"Serv[ing] as an intermediary to interpret and educate the individual on his/her disability, and the treatment plan established by the case manager, physicians, and therapists;"
"Work[ing] with the physicians and therapists to set up medical assessments to develop an ...

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