United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Farhad Radfar seeks to recover unpaid wages under the Fair
Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq.
(FLSA), and the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, Md. Code Ann.,
Lab. & Empl. § 3-501 et seq. (MWHL), from
Defendants Rockville Auto Group, LLC, Abdullah Razaq, and
Toba Hamidi. Pending before the Court is
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 22. No.
hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the following reasons, Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment is denied.
Farhad Radfar worked at Defendant Rockville Auto Group
between September 2014 and May 2016. ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 1.
Plaintiff and his wife Mozghan Rezaei also agreed to lend
Rockville Auto and Defendant Abdullah Razaq $57, 000.
Id. ¶¶ 14-17; ECF No. 22-3.
Plaintiff began working for Defendants he was told that if he
lent Razaq a no-interest loan, Razaq would use the loan to
buy cars and Plaintiff would be entitled to be repaid the
balance of the loan as well as half the profit of each car
purchased with the loan's assistance and resold to
customers. ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 14. Plaintiff discussed this
proposal with his wife Rezaei and the two agreed to lend
Rockville Auto and Razaq money as part of a loan agreement,
which would supplement Plaintiff's regular income from
Rockville Auto. Id. ¶ 15.
parties (borrowers, Razaq and Rockville Auto, and lenders,
Radfar and Rezaei) then signed a Promissory Note
memorializing their agreement. ECF No. 22-3. The Note
explains that the borrowers would use the lender's $57,
000 loan to purchase vehicles for resale and entitled the
lenders to 50% of the net profit for each vehicle.
Id. at 1. Defendants claim that based on the loan
agreement, Plaintiff entered a business relationship with
Rockville Auto and had “space to operate his own
business, ” ECF No. 22-2 ¶ 3, however nothing in
the Note suggested that the lenders would play a role in
purchasing or selling vehicles on behalf of Rockville Auto or
that the Note authorized Radfar or Rezaei to conduct any
business on behalf of Rockville Auto. ECF No. 22-3 at 1;
see also ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 18-19. Additionally,
the Note did not discuss the terms of Radfar's employment
with Rockville Auto. ECF No. 22-3. Although Defendants
characterize Plaintiff as an investor, ECF No. 22-2 ¶ 2,
Plaintiff was not a Rockville Auto shareholder and he did not
hold a security interest in the business, ECF No. 24-6 at 32;
ECF No. 22-3.
to Plaintiff, during his employment with Rockville Auto,
Defendants Abdullah Razaq and Toba Hamidi served as his
managers. ECF No. 24-3 ¶¶ 7, 9, 12, 13. Razaq
supervised Radfar's day-to-day tasks, id.
¶¶ 9-10, and as the sole owner of the Rockville
Auto Group, Hamidi had authority over Plaintiff's
schedule and pay, id. ¶¶ 12-13; see
his tenure, Radfar worked approximately fifty-five hours each
week, performing tasks such as attending car auctions with
Razaq, transporting vehicles between lots, vendors, and
mechanics, and delivering purchased vehicles to customers.
ECF No. 24-3 ¶¶ 2, 3, 4. Radfar did not have the
right to purchase vehicles on Rockville Auto's behalf
when he attended car auctions with Razaq nor was he
responsible for selling cars. Id. ¶ 10.
January 2016, when Defendants began providing Plaintiff with
paystubs and classified him as a W-2 employee, Defendants
issued Plaintiff payments as a 1099 employee and did not
withdraw state and federal taxes from his paycheck.
Id. ¶ 5; ECF No. 24-7. For a certain time,
Defendants compensated Plaintiff $300 each week for
approximately fifty-five hours of work-an hourly rate of
$5.45. ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 5; ECF No. 24-10 at 1, 3. Later,
Defendants compensated Plaintiff $400 for his approximately
fifty-five-hour workweek, an average hourly wage of $7.27.
ECF No. 24-3 ¶ 5; ECF No. 24-10 at 4-10, 13-17.
distinguishing between Plaintiff's employee income and
Plaintiff's income based on the loan agreement,
Defendants assert that during Plaintiff's 20-month
working relationship with Rockville Auto, Plaintiff received
about $120, 000 in net profits from sales of automobiles,
weekly fixed payments, and other payments. ECF No. 22-2
¶ 5. However, according to Plaintiff, he received $4,
469.32 from Rockville Auto in 2014, ECF No. 24-7 at 1, $17,
728.00 in 2015, id. at 2, and $8, 900 for 2016,
id. at 3-a total of $31, 097.32.
Plaintiff's relationship with Rockville Auto ended,
Plaintiff brought this federal and state wage law case on
September 6, 2016, alleging that Defendants failed to pay him
minimum wage and overtime wages in violation of the FLSA and
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is proper if there are no issues of material fact
and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Francis v. Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc.,
452 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir. 2006). A material fact is one
that “might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law.” Spriggs v. Diamond Auto
Glass, 242 F.3d 179, 183 (4th Cir.2001) (quoting
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248,
(1986)). A dispute of material fact is only
“genuine” if sufficient evidence favoring the
non-moving party exists for the trier of fact to return a
verdict for that party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at
248-49. However, the nonmoving party “cannot create a
genuine issue of material fact through mere speculation or
the building of one inference upon another.” Beale
v. Hardy, 769 F.2d 213, 214 (4th Cir.1985). The Court
may rely on only facts supported in the record, not simply
assertions in the pleadings, to fulfill its
“affirmative obligation . . . to prevent
‘factually unsupported claims or defenses' from
proceeding to trial.” Felty v. Graves-Humphreys
Co., 818 F.2d 1126, 1128 (4th Cir.1987). When ruling on
a motion for summary judgment, “[t]he evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences
are to be drawn in his favor.” Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255.