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Simons v. Mi-Kee-Tro M Manufacturing, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 29, 2019

STEPHEN SIMONS, pro se, Plaintiff,
v.
MI-KEE-TRO METAL MANUFACTURING, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PETER J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant in this case, Mi-Kee-Tro Metal Manufacturing, Inc., has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 25. The motion is fully briefed and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Mi-Kee-Tro Metal Manufacturing, Inc. ("MKT") is a manufacturer of sheet metal and HVAC ducts with its primary place of business in York, Pennsylvania. ECF No. 25. On December 30, 2015, pro se Plaintiff Stephen Simons accepted a position as a Sales Associate with MKT. ECF No. 35-3. The offer letter set out that the position paid "a salary of $58, 500 per year, paid weekly at $1, 125." Id. The letter contained no reference to the No. of hours Simons was to work each week or if he was to be compensated for overtime. Id. But according to Simons, on his first day on the job. the head of the human resources department told him that his salary was based on the expectation of a forty-five hour work week. ECF No. 25-3. p. 17, ECF No. 25-4, p. 69. From the outset of his employment, however, Simons says he routinely worked fifty-five to sixty hours per week. ECF No. 16 ¶ 18. According to Simons, on two occasions, one by telephone and one by email, he informed MKT officers that he was working long hours and wanted to discuss additional compensation. ECF. Nos. 25-4, p. 139, 25-8. No. formal commitment to specifically change his compensation was made. On November 9, 2017, two weeks after the phone call and the day after the email, MKT terminated Simons. ECF No. 35-6.

         Simons submits that MKT owes him unpaid wages, liquidated damages and interest, and attorneys' fees and litigation costs under the common law of contracts and quasi-contracts, and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-503, et seq., along with its Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina analogs. ECF No. 16. He also alleges retaliation and unlawful termination under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"). Id., 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.

         Simons has filed an opposition and MKT a reply.

         II. Analysis

         a. Summary Judgment

         Under Rule 56(a), "[f]he court shall grant summary judgment 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). This does not mean, however, that "some alleged factual dispute between the parties" necessarily defeats the motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original). Rather, "the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Id. (emphasis in original).

         In reviewing a motion for summary judgment, the court views the facts, and all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, i.e. Simons. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co.. Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986): Lee v. Town of Seaboard, 863 F.3d 323, 327 (4th Cir. 2017). The court must also "refrain from 'weigh[ing] the evidence or mak[ing] credibility determinations"' when evaluating motions for summary judgment. Lee, 863 F.3d at 327 (quoting Jacobs v. N.C. Admin. Office of the Courts, 780 F.3d 562, 568-69 (4th Cir. 2015)). Further, '"[a]lthough pro se litigants are to be given some latitude, the above standards apply to everyone. Thus, as courts have recognized repeatedly, even a pro se party may not avoid summary judgment by relying on bald assertions and speculative arguments.'" Smith v. Vilsack, 832 F.Supp.2d 573, 580 (D. Md. 2011) (citing cases).

         b. Contract Law Claim

         Simons asserts that MKT breached its employment contract with him by failing to compensate him for the work he performed in excess of forty-five hours per week.

         As indicated, the offer letter, signed by Simons and MKTs head of human resources, Tabitha Musso, sets out that the position paid "a salary of S58, 500 per year, paid weekly at ¶ 1, 125." ECF No. 35-3, ECF No. 25-3, p. 17. The offer letter contains no discussion about the No. of hours Simons was to work each week or if he was to be compensated for overtime, or if indeed there was any basis to determine what hours would be considered overtime. ECF No. 35-3. He began working for MKT on January 4, 2016, ECF No. 25-4, p. 70, and on his first day on the job, Simons alleges that Musso told him that his salary was based on an expectation of a forty-five hour work week. ECF No. 25-4, p. 69. From the outset, however, Simons submits that he routinely worked fifty-five to sixty hours per week, ECF No. 16 ¶ 18, since he was responsible for a territory that included parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West, requiring him to travel long distances from his home in West Virginia to meet with customers. He often had to travel as far as North Carolina. ECF No. 25-4, pp. 109-110.

         After initially pleading that Musso's statement on January 4, 2016, constituted an oral employment contract, ECF No. 16 ¶ 17, Simons now appears to argue that Musso's statement merely clarified the contract ...


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