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Melton v. Tippecanoe County

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

September 22, 2016

James Melton, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Tippecanoe County, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued March 31, 2016

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division at Lafayette. No. 4:ll-CV-46 - Theresa L. Springmann, Judge.

          Before Manion and Kanne, Circuit Judges, and Pepper, District Judge. [*]

          Kanne, Circuit Judge.

         After he disregarded an order from his supervisor that he could not change his schedule to make up for missed time, Plaintiff James Melton was discharged from his job at the Tippecanoe County Surveyor's Office. Melton later filed suit against the County, alleging that during his time there, he had arrived early and worked through lunch every day and was not compensated for overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The district court granted summary judgment to the County because Melton had not designated sufficient evidence to find that he worked more than forty hours in a workweek. We affirm.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         Melton worked in the Tippecanoe County Surveyor's Office from July 6, 2009, through his termination on September 1, 2010. Regular work hours in the Surveyor's Office were from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a one-hour floating lunch break. On May 13, 2010, Melton asked his supervisor in an email if he could take a class during work hours and "make up the 4 hours a week by only taking l/2hour [sic] lunches and coming in l/2hour [sic] early on T, R, F." His supervisor responded by email that Melton could take the class, but due to concerns about supervision and being able to keep track of time, he could not make up the missed time. Instead, he would have to treat the time as unpaid or as vacation time. Melton acknowledged his supervisor's answer, responding "[t]hat is fine with me."

         When his class began the week of August 23, 2010, Melton worked through lunch on one day and came in early three days that week. Melton was paid for the additional time worked, but he was also terminated for failing to follow his supervisor's order that he could not work extra time.

         B. Procedural Background

         Each week while he was employed at the Surveyor's Office, Melton would certify a timecard reporting the hours he worked. According to County records, Melton was paid for all of the hours that he certified he worked. Not so, according to Melton. Melton filed suit in state court alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 207(a), and the Indiana Wage Claim law, Ind. Code § 22-2-9-2(a). The County subsequently removed the case to federal court.

         In his complaint, Melton alleged that his timecards did not accurately reflect the hours he worked because when he put his actual time worked on his timecard, the office secretary would reduce his hours to 37.5, telling him that he could not be paid for more than 37.5 hours in a workweek. Specifically, Melton claimed that he was not compensated for (1) time worked before 8 a.m. even though his supervisor told him to come to work early every day and (2) time worked through all or part of his floating lunch each day.

         In support of his claim that he was not properly compensated, and in response to discovery requests, Melton produced a spreadsheet created from memory that purports to show the dates and times he worked during the whole of his employment with Tippecanoe County.

         The County moved for summary judgment on several grounds. In particular, it argued that Melton "was paid for the time he certified ..., his recollection of uncertified time is demonstrably unreliable, and ... he did not take those steps available to him to put Tippecanoe County on notice of any allegedly inadequate compensation." (Def.'s Mot. Summ J. 22.)

         In response, Melton refused to address the County's argument that his "memory is unreliable/' calling it a "premature argument" that "concerns credibility to be decided at trial." (PL's Opp. to Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. 7 n.2.) Instead, Melton addressed the County's argument that it did not have knowledge of Melton's additional work hours by designating the following testimony from his deposition as evidence that he worked hours for which he was not compensated: (1) that he submitted time sheets with more than 37.5 hours to the secretary; (2) that she would return a "corrected version" with 37.5 hours; (3) that she told him he would not be paid for hours worked beyond 37.5; (4) that Melton was told by his supervisor on three occasions that he was required to be at work before 8:00 a.m.; and (5) that he spoke with his ...

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