United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division
DONALD R. NAYLOR, et al., Plaintiffs,
SECURIGUARD, INC., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
CARLTON W. REEVES, District Judge.
Plaintiffs, current and former security guard employees (collectively, "Plaintiffs") of defendant Securiguard, Inc. ("Securiguard"), bringing this action against Securiguard and several individual defendants, Patricia Marvil, John Oxedine, and Oscar Holt (collectively, "Defendants"), seek to recover alleged unpaid overtime wages and liquidated damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. ("FLSA"). Plaintiffs filed their first complaint on October 9, 2011, and have twice amended their complaint to include all present parties. The Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which states that "district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
This case is now before the Court on the Defendants' motion for summary judgment, Docket No. 35. Plaintiffs have filed a response, to which the Defendants have submitted a rebuttal. After considering the parties' arguments and the applicable authorities, the motion for summary judgment will be granted.
Plaintiffs are employees of Securiguard, which provides professional armed and unarmed security guard service to select government and private industry sites within the United States. Securiguard employed Plaintiffs at the Naval Air Station ("NAS") in Meridian, Mississippi, at different periods of time between 2008 until the present. Second Amended Compl., at 2. The following are the undisputed facts.
Plaintiffs' main duty was to guard the four gate entries at NAS during certain time periods: 1) Main Gate (seven days per week, 24 hours per day); 2) Flightline Gate (seven days per week, 24 hours per day); Truck Gate - Monday though Friday, 5:30a.m. to 3:30 p.m.); and the 4) Housing Gate (seven days per week, 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.). Docket No. 36-1, Exhibit 1, at 2.
As security guards, Plaintiffs were required to stand seven hours at their posts. Id. at 3. Securiguard provided Plaintiffs two unpaid 30 minute "meal periods" in which to have lunch; Plaintiffs had discretion to use these periods concurrently or separately throughout their workday. Second Amended Compl., at 3. During these meal periods, a Relief Officer (RO) filled in Plaintiffs' duties while Plaintiffs, who were not allowed to eat their meals at their post or in their vehicle, were required to leave their post in a Securiguard security vehicle, Docket No. 36-1, Exhibit 1, at 3. Because they were confined to NAS's premises, there were only six locations where Plaintiffs could eat: 1) the Old Security Building; 2) the New Security Building; 3) the Fire Station; 4) Mom's Diner; 5) the Bowling Alley; and 6) the Storage Unit. See Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket No. 43, at 5. When they took their meal period, Plaintiffs were required to wear their weapons, uniforms, bullet proof vests, and gun belt. Id.
Plaintiffs argue that Defendants' failure to pay them for their meal periods amounts to a violation of the FLSA. Plaintiffs request relief in the form of backpay for unpaid wages and overtime, liquidated damages, legal fees and all other costs and expenses. Id. at 4.
II. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment is appropriate 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). When confronted with these motions, the Court focuses on "genuine" disputes of "material" facts. A dispute is genuine "if the evidence supporting its resolution in favor of the party opposing summary judgment, together with any inferences in such party's favor that the evidence allows, would be sufficient to support a verdict in favor of that party." St. Amant v. Benoit, 806 F.2d 1294, 1297 (5th Cir. 1987). A fact is material if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). A party asserting that a fact cannot be or is genuinely disputed must support the assertion by "citing to particular parts of materials in the record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A). The Court "views the evidence and draw reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the non-movant." Maddox v. Townsend & Sons, Inc., 639 F.3d 214, 216 (5th Cir. 2011).
In their second amended complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants violated the FLSA because Plaintiffs were not compensated for their 30 minute lunch breaks despite the fact that they were required to stay in their uniforms, wear their weapons, and remain on the employer's premises. Plaintiffs have since narrowed their focus and assert that they are entitled to compensation primarily because Securiguard imposed a driving duty on them during their meal time. Plaintiffs' sole contention, therefore, is that the requirement that they drive away from their posts for meal time cuts into their 30 minute break (depending at which gate they were working, Plaintiffs' argue, a round trip from a particular gate to a specific lunch destination could take anywhere between 2 to 23 minutes). See Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, Docket No. 43, at 5. Plaintiffs argue that by forcing them to drive away from their work stations, instead of allowing them, for example, to take a meal break at their work stations, Securiguard deprived them of their full 30 minutes to eat. Id.
The FLSA requires that overtime wages be paid for all hours worked in excess of forty hours per week. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a)(1). The act "does not require that an employer provide meal or rest periods." Nelson v. Waste Management of Alameda County, Inc., No. C99-120SI, 2000 WL 868523, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 19, 2000). "Bona fide meal periods are not worktime." 29 C.F.R. § 785.19. "For the period to be classified as meal time, an employee must be completely relieved from duty for purposes of eating regular meals.'" Hartsell v. Dr. Pepper Bottling Co. of Texas, 207 F.3d 269, 274 (5th Cir. 2000).
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has applied the "predominant benefit" test in determining whether a meal break is compensable. ...