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Baclawski v. Fioretti

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division

July 18, 2017

ANNE BACLAWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
PETER FIORETTI; MOUNTAIN REAL ESTATE CAPITAL LLC; and MOUNTAIN ASSET MANAGEMENT GROUP LLC, Defendants.

          ORDER

          DAVID C. KEESLER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         THIS MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Plaintiff's “Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document No. 63) and “Defendants' Motion For Partial Summary Judgment” (Document No. 65). The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and these motions are ripe for disposition. Having carefully considered the motions, the record, applicable authority, and the arguments of counsel at a hearing on June 29, 2017, the undersigned will deny Plaintiff's motion, and grant in part and deny in part Defendants' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         By this action, Plaintiff Anne Baclawski (“Baclawski” or “Plaintiff”) “seeks redress for overtime violations and unlawful retaliation pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. (“FLSA”) and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (“NCWHA”).” (Document No. 14, p.1). Plaintiff was employed by Defendants between October 2013 and June 2015.

         “Plaintiff's primary duties and responsibilities were running errands for, serving as a housekeeper and nanny for, and taking care of the personal residences of Mr. Peter Fioretti.” (Document No. 14, p.1). Although Plaintiff primarily worked for Defendant Peter Fioretti (“Fioretti”), she claims that Defendant Mountain Real Estate Capital LLC (“Mountain”) was also her employer and/or “joint employer.” (Document No. 14, p.3). Plaintiff further contends that Defendant Mountain Asset Management Group LLC (“Mt. Asset Mgmt.”) was her employer and/or “joint employer, ” and that she received her paycheck from Mt. Asset Mgmt. (Document No. 14, p.4).

         More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that she worked a “substantial number of overtime hours, ” but instead of paying her appropriately for those hours, Defendant Fioretti, Mountain's chief executive officer, sought to misclassify her as a 1099 independent contractor and an exempt, salaried employee of Mountain - in order to evade overtime pay requirements. (Document No. 14, p.1). “As a result, Plaintiff repeatedly complained to Fioretti about the fact that she was not being compensated for the substantial number of overtime hours that she was working.” (Document No. 14, p.89). In or about June 2015, Plaintiff resigned her employment. (Document No. 14, pp.90-91).

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants retaliated against her when she sought compensation for her overtime hours by: demanding repayment of $25, 000; threatening her arrest; and threatening to sue her boyfriend, John Milem (“Milem”). (Document No. 14, p.2, 91-92).

         Baclawski initiated this action with the filing of her “Complaint” (Document No. 1) on September 8, 2015. Plaintiff contends that Defendants violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the N.C. Wage and Hour Act by failing to pay Plaintiff time and a half for hours worked during the course of her employment, and by unlawfully retaliating against the Plaintiff. See (Document No. 1).

         On November 4, 2015, Mountain and Fioretti filed an action against Plaintiff and Milem in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County. (Document No. 14, p.92). The allegations in the state court action include stealing a mattress from Defendant Fioretti, using Defendants' money to repair a truck, and failing to disclose that Plaintiff had an economic interest in Milem's company when she recommended that Defendant Fioretti retain its services. Defendants contend that they were unable to bring these claims in this federal lawsuit because the claims are not compulsory counterclaims and because this Court did not have an independent jurisdictional basis over those claims or Milem.

         Plaintiff's “First Amended Complaint” (Document No. 14) was filed on November 21, 2015, and asserts five (5) causes of action against Defendants: (1) Fair Labor Standards Act - Overtime Wages; (2) Fair Labor Standards Act - Retaliation; (3) N.C. Wage and Hour Act - Overtime Wages; (4) N.C. Wage and Hour Act - Retaliation; and (5) N.C. Retaliation In Employment Discrimination Act - Retaliation. (Document No. 14, pp.94-99). The “Answer to Amended Complaint by Peter Fioretti, Mountain Asset Management Group LLC, and Mountain Real Estate Capital LLC” (Document No. 15) was filed on December 14, 2015.

         On January 6, 2016, the Court entered a “Pretrial Order And Case Management Plan” (Document No. 18). The Court set case deadlines as follows: discovery completion - July 15, 2016; mediation - August 5, 2016; motions deadline - September 16, 2016; and trial - January 9, 2017. (Document No. 18).

         The parties filed a “Notice Of Settlement” (Document No. 28) on July 1, 2016; however, in exchanging settlement documents, the parties realized they had a continuing dispute that prevented complete agreement. See (Document Nos. 30, 33, 37 and 41). The undersigned ultimately declined to enforce the purported settlement agreement. See (Document No. 48).

         On November 21, 2016, the parties filed their “Joint Stipulation of Consent to Exercise Jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate Judge.” Case deadlines were re-set on January 19, 2017 as follows: discovery completion - March 31, 2017; motions deadline - April 21, 2017; and trial - August 7, 2017. (Document No. 55). The undersigned held a status and motions hearing on June 29, 2017.

         Now pending before the Court are Plaintiff's “Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document No. 63) filed April 18, 2017; and “Defendants' Motion For Partial Summary Judgment” (Document No. 65) filed April 21, 2017. The motions are fully briefed and ripe for review and disposition.

         II. ...


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