United States District Court, D. Maryland
Stephanie A. Gallagher, United States Magistrate Judge.
Yin Wen Chen (“Mr. Chen”) filed this case against
his former employer, Defendant Royal Garden Adult Medical
Daycare Center, Inc. (“Royal Garden”), and the
owner of Royal Garden, Shihong Yang (“Mr. Yang”)
(collectively, “Defendants”), alleging violations
of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, codified, as
amended, at 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq.
(“FLSA”) (Count I) and the Maryland Wage Payment
and Collection Law (“MWPCL”), Md. Code Ann.,
§§ 3-501 et seq. of the Labor and
Employment Article (Count II). Am. Compl., [ECF 3].
Specifically, Mr. Chen alleges that he was not paid overtime
compensation for the months of March, 2015 through June,
2016. Id. ¶¶ 20-23.
October 1, 2018, Defendants filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment, ECF 28, along with a memorandum of law, ECF 28-1,
(collectively, the “Motion”). Mr. Chen opposed
the Motion, ECF 31 (“Opp.”), and Defendants have
replied, ECF 32 (“Reply”). I find that no hearing
is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For
the reasons that follow, I will deny the Motion.
facts below are taken in the light most favorable to
Plaintiff, the non-moving party. Defendant Royal Garden is a
Maryland corporation providing medical and supervisory care
services to the elderly in Columbia, Maryland. Am. Compl.,
ECF 3 ¶ 2. Royal Garden employs about eighteen (18)
workers and serves roughly eighty (80) customers every day.
Id. ¶ 5. Defendant Mr. Yang is a Maryland
resident who owns and operates Royal Garden. Id.
¶ 6. Mr. Chen is a male of Asian descent who testified
at his deposition, through an interpreter, that he cannot
read English. Id. ¶ 4; Pl.'s Dep., p. 90,
ECF 31-2 at 15. In or about March of 2015, Mr. Chen was hired
by Mr. Yang to work primarily as a driver for Royal Garden.
Am. Compl., ECF 3 ¶ 8. Mr. Chen avers, however, that his
duties extended beyond that of a driver, and also included
conducting “supply runs” by shopping for food,
cleaning, and hardware supplies as needed, “preparing
and serving food to customers, meeting customers with special
needs, ” installing electronics, cabinetry, and locks,
and serving as “a general handyman for Royal
Garden.” Id. ¶¶ 8-9; Pl.'s Opp.,
ECF 31 at 1.
Chen's standard hours of work were approximately 7:20
a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Pl.'s Opp.,
Exh. D, ECF 31-4 at 11. Royal Garden uses a Facial
Recognition System (“FRS”) to track the hours of
its employees. Pl.'s Dep., pp. 26-27, ECF 31-2 at 5. The
system takes a photo of the employee upon arrival and
departure. Id. Mr. Chen's starting wage was
seventeen dollars ($17.00) per hour, and his wage increased
to twenty dollars ($20.00) per hour in or about June of 2015.
Am. Compl., ECF 3 ¶¶ 10-11; Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31
at 2. In or about July of 2015, Mr. Chen's wage decreased
to eighteen dollars ($18.00) per hour. Am. Compl., ECF 3
¶ 12; Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 2. In the fall of 2015,
Mr. Chen was notified that he would be paid a weekly salary
instead of an hourly wage. Am. Compl., ECF 3 ¶ 13;
Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 2. Mr. Chen's annual salary
after this change was approximately $37, 440.00. Am. Compl.,
ECF 3 ¶ 14; Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 2. During the
course of his employment with Royal Garden, Mr. Chen took
just two personal days. Am. Compl., ECF 3 ¶ 25. He was
not an overtime exempt employee at any time during his
employment. Id. ¶ 16.
Chen admits that his “timesheets do not show that he
worked overtime, ” but that “he testified that he
did.” Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 6; Defs.' Mot.,
Exh. 7, ECF 28-8. Indeed, Mr. Chen's timesheets do not
reflect any overtime worked by Mr. Chen, but roughly reflect
his standard hours of work, from approximately 7:20 a.m. to
2:30 p.m. Defs.' Mot., Exh. 7, ECF 28-8. However, Mr.
Chen attests that, throughout the course of his employment,
he worked well over forty (40) hours each week. Am. Compl.,
ECF 3 ¶ 19; Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 2; Pl.'s Dep.,
pp. 62-66, ECF 31-2 at 11. Specifically, Mr. Chen reports
working a total of: approximately forty-four (44) hours of
overtime from approximately March 17, 2015 until April 18,
2015; approximately twenty-two (22) hours of overtime from
approximately April 19, 2015 until May 31, 2015; and
approximately twenty-two (22) hours of overtime each week
from approximately June 1, 2015 until June 29, 2016. Am.
Compl., ECF 3 ¶¶ 20-22; Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at
2. Mr. Chen alleges that he received no overtime pay for
hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week, that he
did not receive any pay for nationally recognized holidays
during which he was required to work, and that Royal Garden
deducted ten hours of pay from his wages for each of the two
personal days he took. Am. Compl., ECF 3 ¶¶ 23-25;
Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 2.
deposition on August 8, 2018, Mr. Chen stated that, on
several occasions, he had to stay at Royal Garden overnight
to make fritters for the following day, and that, although
“[n]obody asked [him] to stay overnight, ” he
stayed “because [he] was given this task” and
“want[ed] to do it well.” Pl.'s Dep., p. 63,
ECF 31-2 at 11. Mr. Chen noted that on one occasion, he was
asked to work overtime to transport residents to the Cherry
Blossom Festival, and that he was paid for that overtime.
Pl.'s Dep., p. 38, ECF 31-2 at 7. Defendants confirmed
this overtime occasion in their Motion, and Mr. Chen's
timesheets show overtime hours logged on June 25, 2015.
Defs.' Mot., ECF 28-1 at 3; Defs.' Mot., Exh. 7, ECF
28-8 at 4. Beyond this single instance, Mr. Chen never asked
for overtime pay, nor did Mr. Yang or his supervisor, Brian
Hong (“Mr. Hong”), ever ask Mr. Chen to work
overtime. Pl.'s Dep., pp. 62-67, ECF 31-2 at 11-12. Mr.
Chen also testified that he “did not want to try”
to ask for overtime pay because “one person was
dismissed after taking one day sick leave.”
Id., p. 64, ECF 31-2 at 11. Mr. Chen noted, however,
that neither Mr. Hong nor Mr. Yang ever told him that he
would be terminated if he requested overtime pay.
Chen also testified that Mr. Yang saw him working one night
beyond 9:00 p.m., and that Mr. Yang instructed Mr. Chen to
“make sure the facility [was] locked up after [Mr. Chen
left] and close the windows and doors.” Pl.'s Dep.,
p. 68, ECF 31-2 at 12; Pl.'s Opp., ECF 31 at 2-3. Mr.
Chen's supervisor, Mr. Hong, also testified that he knew
Mr. Chen had taken on additional duties at Royal Garden, and
that he could not be sure that Mr. Chen never worked past
2:30 p.m. on any occasion, because he was not wearing a
watch. Pl.'s Opp., Exh. C, ECF 31-3 at 4-7; Pl.'s
Opp., ECF 31 at 3. Mr. Chen also submitted sworn declarations
from three of his former co-workers at Royal Garden, Jinfang
Chen, Kangmei Xu, and Xiaofeng Dong. Pl.'s Opp., Exh. E,
ECF 31-5. All three former co-workers attest that they saw
Mr. Chen working beyond 4:00 p.m. on several occasions.
Chen's employment with Royal Garden ended in or about
July of 2016. Am. Compl., ECF 3 ¶ 17; Pl.'s Opp.,
ECF 31 at 2. Subsequently, Mr. Chen filed a Wage Claim with
the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation,
alleging a total of $49, 256.51 in unpaid overtime wages from
Royal Garden. Pl.'s Opp., Exh. F, ECF 31-6. This suit
followed on July 25, 2017. Compl., ECF 1. Mr. Chen amended
his Complaint on August 17, 2018. Am. Compl., ECF 3.
Discovery in this matter ended on August 31, 2018.
See Joint Status Report, ECF 27.
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is appropriate only “if the movant shows 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). Defendants, as the moving party, bear the
burden of showing that there is no genuine dispute of
material facts. See Casey v. Geek Squad, 823
F.Supp.2d 334, 348 (D. Md. 2011). If Defendants establish
that there is no evidence to support Plaintiff's case,
the burden then shifts to Plaintiff to proffer specific facts
to show a genuine issue exists for trial. Id.
Plaintiff must provide enough admissible evidence to
“carry the burden of proof at trial.”
Id. at 349 (quoting Mitchell v. Data Gen.
Corp., 12 F.3d 1310, 1315-16 (4th Cir. 1993)). The mere
existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of
Plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for
Plaintiff. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 252 (1986). Moreover, a genuine issue of material fact
cannot rest on “mere speculation, or building one
inference upon another.” Casey, 823 F.Supp.2d
at 349. Additionally, summary judgment shall be warranted if
the non-moving party fails to provide evidence that
establishes an essential element of the case. Plaintiff
“must produce competent evidence on each element of his
or her claim.” Miskin v. Baxter Healthcare
Corp., 107 F.Supp.2d 669, 671 (D. Md. 1999). If
Plaintiff fails to do so, “there can be no genuine
issue as to any material fact, ” because the failure to
prove an essential element of the case “necessarily
renders all other facts immaterial.” Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); see also
Casey, 823 F.Supp.2d at 348-49. In ruling on a motion
for summary judgment, a court must view all of the facts,
including reasonable inferences to be drawn from them,
“in the light most favorable to the party opposing the
motion.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986).