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In Simons, this Court granted summary judgment in the defendant"s favor on the plaintiff"s retaliation claim because, beyond temporal proximity, the plaintiff did not offer any "facts to refute stated reason for his termination as pretextual."

Summary of this case from Dziwulski v. Mayor of Balt.

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Civil No. PJM 18-1270




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 & no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R. 105.6. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

I. Factual và Procedural Background

Mi-Kee-Tro Metal Manufacturing, Inc. ("MKT") is a manufacturer of sheet metal & 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 khổng lồ the number of hours Simons was khổng lồ work each week or if he was lớn 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, phường 69. From the outset of his employment, however, Simons says he routinely worked fifty-five lớn sixty hours per week. ECF No. 16 ¶ 18. According khổng lồ Simons, on two occasions, one by telephone và one by email, he informed MKT officers that he was working long hours và wanted to discuss additional compensation. ECF. Nos. 25-4, p. 139, 25-8. No formal commitment to lớn specifically change his compensation was made. On November 9, 2017, two weeks after the phone call & the day after the email, MKT terminated Simons. ECF No. 35-6.

Simons submits that MKT owes him unpaid wages, liquidated damages & interest, and attorneys" fees & litigation costs under the common law of contracts & quasi-contracts, & the Maryland Wage Payment & Collection Law, Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. §§ 3-503, et seq., along with its Pennsylvania, West Virginia, và North Carolina analogs. ECF No. 16. He also alleges retaliation & 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), "he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as lớn 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, & all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, i.e. Simons.

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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 the evidence or mak 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, "lthough pro se litigants are to lớn be given some latitude, the above standards apply lớn everyone. Thus, as courts have recognized repeatedly, even a pro se tiệc nhỏ may not avoid summary judgment by relying on bald assertions và 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 MKT"s head of human resources, Tabitha Musso, sets out that the position paid "a salary of $58,500 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 number of hours Simons was khổng lồ work each week or if he was to lớn 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, & 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 lớn sixty hours per week, ECF No. 16 ¶ 18, since he was responsible for a territory that included parts of the Mid-Atlantic & Mid-West, requiring him to lớn travel long distances from his home in West Virginia khổng lồ meet with customers. He often had khổng lồ 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 khổng lồ argue that Musso"s statement merely clarified the contract established by the offer letter, ECF No. 35. His argument is still unavailing.

"Maryland law employs an objective approach to lớn contract interpretation, according lớn which, unless a contract"s language is ambiguous, Maryland courts give effect khổng lồ that language as written without concern for the subjective intent of the parties at the time of formation." CBRE Realty Finance TRS, LLC v. McCormiek, 414 Fed.Appx. 547, 549 (4th Cir. 2011) (quoting Ocean Petroleum Co. V. Yanek, 416 Md. 74, 5 A.3d 683, 690 (Md. 2010)) (internal marks omitted). When a contract"s language is clear & unambiguous, "a court shall give effect to lớn its plain meaning." Jos A. Bank Clothiers, Inc. V. J.A.B.-Columbia, Inc., 2017 WL 6406805 (D. Md. 2017 (quoting DIRECTV, Inc. V. Mattingly, 829 A.2d 626, 634 (Md. 2003)).

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