United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
FISH, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action was brought by the plaintiff, Kevin Godert
(“Godert”), against the defendant, Palo Alto
Networks, Inc. (“PAN”). Originally filed in state
court, the defendant removed the case to federal court on the
basis of federal question jurisdiction. Notice of Removal
(docket entry 1). Although the court remanded some of the
plaintiff's state law claims before trial, it retained
one state law claim and one federal claim on its docket.
See Memorandum Opinion and Order at 6 (docket entry
36). Specifically, the court retained Godert's breach of
contract claim as well as his claim for wages and overtime
compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”). See id. After a two-day bench
trial on October 23 and 24, 2017, the court makes the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
FINDINGS OF FACT
is a technology company that emphasizes cyber security. PAN
develops and sells advanced firewall systems and other
applications to companies. Trial Transcript, Vol. 1,
10:22-24, 12:22-25 (docket entry 57).
employed Godert as a Senior Business Development
Representative (“SBDR”) from October 2013 until
February 2016. Joint Pretrial Order ¶ II (1, 2) (docket
Throughout the entirety of his employment with PAN, Godert
worked as an SBDR in PAN's Plano, Texas Office. Trial
Transcript, Vol 1, 87:15-20; Joint Pretrial Order ¶ II
his position, Godert marketed the defendant's products
and services to potential customers. Trial Transcript, Vol.
1, 20:9-18. One of Godert's responsibilities as an SBDR
was to schedule appointments for PAN's field
representatives to meet with existing and prospective
customers. Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, 21:21-22:15.
facilitate sales, PAN utilizes both an inside and an outside
sales team. Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, 22:11-23:10;
87:25-90:21. SBDRs and Business Development Representatives
(“BDRs”), one level below the SBDRs, work on
PAN's inside sales team, Trial Transcript Vol. 1,
92:8-10, while PAN employs a separate outside sales team of
Field Representatives. Trial Transcript Vol. 1, 20:19-23,
22:16-23:10. Though PAN assigns different goals and
responsibilities to members of the inside sales team and the
outside sales team, the two teams often work cooperatively to
secure a sale. Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, 88:7-90:21.
Godert participated in PAN's hiring process at least once
during the time of his employment, when he helped to
interview a BDR candidate and was asked to provide a
recommendation on whether to hire that candidate. Trial
Transcript, Vol. 1, 92:6-93:23. Though Godert recommended
that PAN hire the individual he helped to interview, the
company did not follow his recommendation. Trial Transcript,
Vol. 1-B, 23:7-20 (docket entry 58).
Godert sometimes assisted PAN in training new members of the
inside sales team. Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, 93:24-94:11.
all times during his employment, PAN paid Godert a salary of
not less than $455 a week, which he received semi-monthly.
Joint Pretrial Order ¶ II (5); Defendant's Trial
Exhibit (“DTE”) 1 at PAN000041.
During the course of his employment, Godert had four direct
supervisors: Kelly Tulos, Christine Muir, Kevin Hemphill
(“Hemphill”), and Andrew Sakelson. Trial
Transcript, Vol. 1, 20:24-21:15, Vol. 1-B, 29:14-23.
During Godert's employment, Joshua Hoffman was, and still
is, PAN's Vice President of Global Inside Sales. Trial
Transcript, Vol. 1-B, 112:12-13.
insides sales personnel, including Godert, received a
light-weight, portable laptop, and both inside and outside
sales representatives were permitted to seek reimbursement
for their work-related cell phone charges. Trial Transcript,
Vol. 1-B, 37:23-39:14.
Godert's normal routine while with PAN was to arrive at
the office around 7:00 a.m. and leave around 3:00 p.m. or
4:00 p.m. Trial Transcript, Vol. I, 102:19-103:5.
See DTE 24-25.
addition to receiving a fixed salary, Godert also received
commissions. See, e.g., Plaintiff's
Trial Exhibit (“PTE”) 3 at PAN000080. Palo
Alto's Employee Handbook stated that PAN reserved the
“right to revise, modify, delete, or add to any and all
policies, procedures, work rules, or benefits” stated
in the handbook or any other document. DTE 14 at PAN000151.
Godert received commissions when he set an appointment for a
client to meet with an outside sales representative and the
appointment was kept. Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, 32:18-20.
During Godert's employment, PAN switched its plan from
paying SBDRs a commission on just “appointments
kept” to paying them for “appointments
kept” and through a “pipeline” program.
See Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, 36:21-38:5.
SBDRs received pipeline-based commissions when outside sales
representatives changed the client's status to an