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Butler v. Ciena Health Care Mgt., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

December 27, 2017

Sheila Bulter, Plaintiff,
v.
Ciena Health Care Mgt., Inc., Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Sean F. Cox United States District Judge.

         In this Fair Labor Standards Act case, Plaintiff claims that Defendants should have compensated her for overtime and for time spent on-call. Discovery has concluded and Defendants have moved for summary judgment. Because the issues have been adequately presented in the parties' briefs and oral argument would not significantly aid the decisional process, the Court will decided Defendants' motion on the briefs. E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2).

         For the reasons below, the Court shall grant the motion in part and deny it in part. The Court concludes that Defendants are not entitled to summary judgment in its favor on Plaintiff's overtime claim because, construing the evidence in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, there are genuine issues of material fact for trial. But the Court shall grant Defendants' motion as to Plaintiff's on-call time claim because a reasonable jury could not conclude that Defendants' on-call policy seriously interfered with Plaintiff's ability to use her time for personal pursuits.

         BACKGROUND

         In January 2015, Defendant Hartford Nursing & Rehabilitation Center offered Plaintiff Sheila Butler a position as a Director of Admissions and Marketing.[1] Def. Ex. B. The job offer described the position as a full time, salaried-exempt position. Id. At the time, Defendant also employed a second Director of Admissions, Jessica Fairweather. Fairweather Dep., p. 12. Plaintiff worked at Defendant Hartford in this capacity until February 2017. Pl. Dep., p. 95.

         At Hartford, the Director of Admissions is responsible for patient referrals and for admissions department activities. Def. Ex. D. The latter responsibility includes identifying, soliciting, and maintaining relationships with referral sources, such as hospitals and assisted living facilities. Id. For example, Plaintiff would contact physicians and social workers, accompany doctors at hospitals as they visited patients, and conduct tours of Hartford's facility. Pl. Dep., p. 48-49, 65. The Director is also responsible for submitting daily and monthly reports about admissions, discharges, and current patient insurance information. Pl. Dep., p. 44-45; Toth Dep., p. 34-35. This information would also be reported in daily calls or morning meetings with supervisors. Pl. Dep., p. 46-47; Fairweather Dep., p. 20.

         The Director's primary responsibility, however, appears to be admitting patients who have been referred from other facilities. Hartford receives patient referrals from other healthcare facilities either via a computer program called “ECIN” or via fax. Def. Stmt. of Undisputed Facts, ¶ 9. According to Plaintiff, when Hartford received a referral during work hours, she would view it, identify the patient's insurance, and contact the insurer to obtain any necessary authorization. Pl. Dep., p. 37-38. Plaintiff would also fill out a form, developed by Defendants, identifying the patient's medical conditions. Id. at 39-40; Def. Ex. P. This “Admission Screening Tool” contains explicit admissions instructions for the Director. It specifies that patients who have certain stabilized medical conditions should be automatically approved. Def. Ex. P. Referrals for patients who have certain other specified medical conditions or treatments must be reviewed by a licensed nurse and/or therapist. Id.

         As the Director of Admissions, Plaintiff could admit patients if their insurance was appropriate and if the Director of Nursing approved. Pl. Dep., p. 37. Plaintiff could not deny a referral without alerting corporate. Id. at 41; Fairweather Dep., p. 17.

         Plaintiff was responsible for admitting patients twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Def. Ex. D; Pl. Dep., p. 36. She was expected to respond to at least 65 percent of referrals within 15 minutes. Toth Dep., p 20. The Directors of Admissions were on call for 24 hours a day on weekdays. Id. at 126; Fairweather Dep., p. 16. Plaintiff was also on call every other weekend, alternating with Fairweather. Pl. Dep., p. 104.

         Hartford received after hours referrals via ECIN or fax. Pl. Dep., p. 107. Referrals via ECIN were also sent directly to the Director's phone whereas faxes went to Hartford's facility. Toth Dep., p. 53. Plaintiff could respond to ECIN referrals using her phone, id. at 43, but she did not receive faxed referrals until she returned to work. Toth Dep., p. 54. Over a two year period while Plaintiff was employed (from February 1, 2015 through February 28, 2017), there were 5, 878 referrals made via ECIN. Def. Ex. Q. All but 178 of these referrals were made between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Def. Ex. R. Only 323 of the total ECIN referrals were made on Saturday or Sunday. Def. Ex. Q.

         After Plaintiff left her position, she sued Defendants, arguing that her job responsibilities entitled her to compensation for overtime hours worked and time spent on-call and that Defendants' failure to provide this compensation violated the FLSA. Following discovery, Defendants moved for summary judgment (Doc. # 38) and Plaintiff responded (Doc. # 40).

         STANDARD OF DECISION

         Summary judgment will be granted when no genuine issue of material fact exists. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists where “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. The Court “must view the evidence, all facts, and any inferences that may be drawn from the facts in the light ...


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