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Farmer v. Turn Key Installation, LLC

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

July 16, 2019

JEREMY FARMER, Plaintiff,
v.
TURN KEY INSTALLATION, LLC, ET AL., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN McBRYDE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Came on for consideration the motion of defendants Turn Key Installation, LLC ("Turn Key"), and Matthew Chayer ("Chayer") (together "defendants") for summary judgment.[1] The court, having considered the motion, the response of plaintiff, Jeremy Farmer, the reply, the record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted.

         I.

         Plaintiff's Claims

         The operative pleading is plaintiff's second amended complaint filed June 13, 2019. Doc.[2] 32. In it, plaintiff alleges:

         Plaintiff was hired by defendants to help build conveyor systems and to supervise other persons. Doc. 32, ¶12. He was employed from approximately December 2017 to March 2018. Id. ¶ 13. Plaintiff was hired as an independent contractor but came to believe that he should have been classified as an employee. Id.¶¶ 15, 17.[3] He complained numerous times in March 2018 that the employment status of various employees was improper. Id. ¶ 18, On or about March 28, 2018, plaintiff contacted an attorney to inquire about his misclassification status. Minutes after he got off the phone, his supervisor asked him what he was doing and plaintiff told him. The supervisor stepped away to make a phone call and returned to tell plaintiff to join the call. He was told by Chayer that he was being terminated as they no longer needed his services. Id. ¶ 19.

         Plaintiff asserts a claim for interference and retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-19 ("FLSA").

         II.

         Ground of the Motion

         Defendants urge one ground in support of their motion. The say that plaintiff cannot establish a genuine issue of material fact as to a causal link or pretext for his firing. Doc. 33.

         III.

         Summary Judgment Principles

         Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court shall grant summary judgment on a claim or defense if 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); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The movant bears the initial burden of pointing out to the court that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 325 (1986). The movant can discharge this burden by pointing out the absence of evidence supporting one or more essential elements of the nonmoving party's claim, "since a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Id. at 323. Once the movant has carried its burden under Rule 56 (a), the nonmoving party must identify evidence in the record that creates a genuine dispute as to each of the challenged elements of its case. Id. at 324; see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) ("A party asserting that a fact ... is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . . ."). If the evidence identified could not lead a rational trier of fact to find in favor of the nonmoving party as to each essential element of the nonmoving party's case, there is no genuine dispute for trial and summary judgment is appropriate. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 597 (1986). In Mississippi Prot. & Advocacy Sys., Inc. v. Cotten, the Fifth Circuit explained:

Where the record, including affidavits, interrogatories, admissions, and depositions could not, as a whole, lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving ...

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