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Simpkins v. DuPage Housing Authority

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

June 20, 2018

Anthony E. Simpkins, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DuPage Housing Authority, et al., Defendants-Appellees.

          Argued March 27, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 15 C 9103 - Charles R. Norgle, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         Anthony Simpkins sued the DuPage Housing Authority and DHA Management, Inc. (collectively, DHA), alleging various violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL), the Illinois Employee Classification Act (IECA), the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act (IPWA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court held that Simpkins was not an employee of DHA, but rather an independent contractor. Therefore, it granted summary judgment in favor of DHA as to the federal claims and relinquished jurisdiction over the state law claims. Because there are genuine disputes of fact that are material to the determination of Simpkins' employment status, we reverse and remand.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Simpkins began working for DHA in November 2009. He and DHA entered into an agreement titled "Independent Contractor Agreement, " with an expected completion date of June 2011. The contract stated that his duties were to include "general labor as needed" to complete the rehabilitation of vacant properties that were part of DHA's Neighborhood Stabilization Program to make them suitable for new occupants. In that role, he performed carpentry, maintenance, and handyman work such as demolition, remodeling, removing fixtures, and discarding trash.

         In 2011, the rehab work slowed down and Simpkins began working primarily at Ogden Manor, a townhome community for which DHA served as the on-site management. He performed much of the same work, but eventually focused specifically on maintenance work. Ogden Manor's property manager and maintenance supervisor, who were DHA employees, gave Simpkins his list of job duties and prioritized the order in which he needed to complete those tasks.

         In May 2012, Simpkins and DHA entered into another "Independent Contractor Agreement." This agreement described the scope of work as "general labor for maintenance" at Ogden Manor. The agreement originally stated that the expected completion date for that work was July 2012. However, that date was later crossed out by hand and replaced with "To Be Determined." Simpkins continued to work at Ogden Manor until May 2015.

         From November 2009 through May 2015, Simpkins worked full-time and exclusively for DHA. Pursuant to DHA's instructions, Simpkins reported his hours by submitting invoices, and he was paid bi-weekly via paper check. DHA issued Simpkins 1099-MISC tax forms to file his taxes, while others whom DHA considered employees were issued W-2 forms. Simpkins was aware that DHA considered him an independent contractor, and he repeatedly requested, to no avail, that his supervisors convert him to a regular employee. DHA did not provide him with pension, insurance, or other similar fringe benefits.

         In May 2015, Simpkins was injured in a car accident, after which his relationship with DHA ended. He filed this lawsuit in October 2015, claiming that DHA had repeatedly failed to pay him overtime, and that DHA was required to provide him with certain disability benefits. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court granted DHA's motion and ruled that Simpkins was not an employee of DHA under the FLSA. Accordingly, it granted DHA's motion as to the federal claims[1] and relinquished jurisdiction of the state law claims.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standards

         Summary judgment is appropriate only where there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, "[t]he court should neither look the other way to ignore genuine issues of material fact, nor strain to find material fact issues where there are none." Sec'y of Labor, U.S. Dep't of ...


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