United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
cause comes before the Court on plaintiffs motion for entry
of default judgment against defendant Stephen Narron. [DE
11]. Plaintiffs motion is GRANTED.
failed to appear in this action after personal service of the
complaint and summons were made on him on July 18, 2019.
Clerk's default pursuant to Rule 55(a) was entered
against defendant on September 19, 2019. Fed.R.Civ.P. 55(a).
Plaintiff now seeks entry of default judgment against
seeks entry of default judgment under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 55(b). Plaintiff has established that defendant is
neither a minor nor incompetent and is not in military
service. After the entry of default, the well-pleaded factual
allegations in plaintiffs complaint are deemed admitted.
Ryan v. Homecomings Fin. Network, 253 F.3d 778, 780
(4th Cir. 2001). The Court must then "determine whether
the well-pleaded allegations in [plaintiffs] complaint
support the relief sought in this action." Id.
alleges the following. Defendant operates a commercial
electric company engaged primarily in the construction,
installation, and wiring of lighting for commercial
buildings. DE 1, ¶ 20. Plaintiff was hired by defendant
in 2006 as a general laborer and was eventually promoted to
foreman. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiffs regular rate was
$26/hour. Id. ¶ 22. Defendant would often
"short" plaintiff-or fail to pay him all the time
worked and would not compensate him a rate of
time-and-one-half hours worked over forty in a week.
Id. ¶ 23.
required plaintiff to arrive at defendant's workshop
prior to the start of his shift so that plaintiff could load
equipment, tools, and/or material. Id. ¶ 24.
Plaintiff was also responsible for picking up and dropping
off any other employee of defendant who needed a ride to the
jobsite. Id. Regardless of the location of the
worksite, plaintiff was required to be at the project by 7:00
a.m. Id. As the worksites were located throughout
North Carolina and parts of South Carolina and Virginia,
plaintiff typically began loading equipment or picking up
employees by 6:00 a.m. every morning before each shift.
Id. At the end of the day, plaintiff was responsible
for returning equipment to defendant's workshop and
dropping off any other employees as needed. Id.
Based on the additional time plaintiff spent engaged in
pre-shift and post-shift activities, such activities added an
additional 3 hours per shift to his workday. Id.
¶ 25. Defendant required plaintiff to submit timesheets
each week, but the timesheets only reflected plaintiffs
scheduled shift hours, as determine by the defendant.
Id. ¶ 30. Plaintiffs timesheets did not reflect
the time spent performing work duties, prior to his start
time and following the end of his shift. Id.
regularly voiced concerns regarding defendant's pay
practices. Id. ¶ 32. When plaintiff complained
to defendant about not receiving compensation for all hours
worked at the proper rate, defendant responded that plaintiff
"'will have to do it this way or have no job,"
and that defendant would rather file for bankruptcy than pay
plaintiff properly. Id. When plaintiff refused to
work overtime hours without pay, defendant reduced plaintiffs
regularly scheduled hours. Id. ¶ 33. These
allegations are deemed admitted.
well pleaded allegations in plaintiffs complaint support the
finding that defendant willfully violated the Fair Labor
Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201,
el seq. "The FLSA provides that employers shall
pay employees a minimum hourly wage for all hours
worked." Perez v. Mountaire Farms, Inc., 650
F.3d 350, 363 (4th Cir. 2011) (internal quotations omitted).
"Under the continuous workday rule, the compensable
workday begins with the first principal activity of a job and
ends with the employee's last principal activity."
Id. (internal quotation omitted). Under the
Portal-to-Portal Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. §§ 251-62,
which amended the FLSA, employers were relieved of the duty
to compensate for work that was preliminary or postliminary
to the principal activities. Id. These preliminary
and postliminary carve-outs, however, did not include
activities that were "integral or indispensable" to
the job. Id.
the well pleaded factual allegations describe a situation in
which plaintiff was required to transport other employees,
pick-up and drop-off equipment/materials, and generally
perform tasks indispensable to the job of general
laborer/foreman of a commercial electric company-and was not
paid for this work.
FLSA's two-year statute of limitations is extended to
three years for "willful" violations.
McLaughlin v. Richland Shoe Co., 486 U.S. 128, 132
(1988). Willfulness means that the employer either knew or
showed reckless disregard to whether its conduct was
prohibited by the FLSA. Desmond v. PNGI Charles Town
Gaming, L.L.C, 630 F.3d 351, 358 (4th Cir. 2011). Here,
plaintiffs allegations show that defendant went as far as to
say that he would rather go bankrupt than compensate
plaintiff properly. Taken as true, this clearly demonstrates
plaintiff has established that defendant is liable for unpaid
amounts under the FLSA, the Court finds that an award of
damages is proper. In January 2019, before filing this
lawsuit, plaintiff sent defendant a demand letter outlining
his allegations. The parties engaged in settlement
negotiations, which subsequently broke down. As part of those
negotiations, they signed a "Tolling Agreement/'
While the agreement is not binding on the Court, the Court
will toll the three-year statute of limitations starting from
the time of the demand letter. There is a strong public
interest in encouraging settlement, and equitable tolling
encourages parties to settle out-of-court instead of hastily
suing in order to satisfy the statute of limitations.
has submitted, along with an affidavit, a Calculation of
Damages, going back to January 2016. Consistent with
plaintiffs sworn calculations, the Court awards plaintiff
$126, 274 for earned, but unpaid wages. The Court also awards
plaintiff $126, 274 in liquidated damages in accordance with
the FLSA. 29 U.S.C § 216. Finally, the Court awards the
calculated $16, 407.30 in attorneys fees. The Court does not
award the plaintiff any pre-judgment interest because ...