U.S. District Court Considers Glass Installer's
Claims Against Employer; Denies Summary Judgment on Travel Time
March 2, 2010
A U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, Va., recently ruled that
it would not make a partial summary judgment in the case of a glass
installer's suit against his former company, BECCM Co. Inc., doing
business as both Albemarle Glass & Mirror Co. and Virginia Glass
Co.), with regard to his travel time claims alleged in the suit.
The installer, Keith Jackson, who worked for the company from January
2008 to February 2009, filed the suit last August, and makes several
claims against both his former employer and BECCM director and president
Brent Wright. Though many of the claims are personal in nature (as
Jackson alleges the company discriminated against him as an African-American
employee and harassed him as well), the suit also addresses the
topic of travel times for glass installers and whether installers
should be compensated for that time in certain instances.
Jackson claims that, in various instances, he was required to report
to the office of the glass shop, pick up a company vehicle, and
then travel elsewhere to complete a job. At the end of the day,
he would then return the vehicle to the office, according to the
case. Jackson claims that he should have been compensated for his
travel time both to and from the job site, though BECCM had advised
him the company would only compensate him for one leg of the trip
each day-either his time driving to the job site or back to the
office-but not both.
"Shortly after Mr. Jackson completed his first week of work
with Defendants, Defendants informed Mr. Jackson that it was Defendants'
policy to compensate their workers for only one leg of their daily
two-leg travel time to and from the company's office to the jobsite,"
reads the original suit, filed in August 2009.
Jackson alleges that this violates the Fair Standards and Labor
Act (FSLA) and that the business was "required under the FLSA
to compensate Mr. Jackson and the similarly situated employees for
their work and travel time at an hourly compensation rate and at
time-and-a-half for any and all overtime hours worked
Though BECCM has since filed a counterclaim against Jackson, alleging
that he was required to return the vehicle to the business each
day because he had previously used the company vehicle "in
an unauthorized manner, and BECCM hoped to prevent such further
misuse." Likewise, BECCM claims that, on the days when Jackson
traveled to the office to pick up a company vehicle and had to return
it at the end of the day, he had the option of using his own personal
vehicle to travel to the jobsite and back, without an additional
stop at the office.
"Only on those occasions where plaintiff chose to use the
benefit of the company vehicle was he then required to return the
vehicle at the end of the day," wrote Judge Norman Moon in
his recent opinion.
Moon continues, "I find that a partial judgment on the pleadings
on this issue is unwarranted. Though BECCM has stated in its answer
that it did, in some instances, require plaintiff to return to the
corporate office at the end of the workday, that requirement may
well have been in place only to the extent that plaintiff chose
to partake in the benefit of employer-provided transportation. The
pleadings do not make clear that the plaintiff was absolutely required
to return to his employer's office at the end of the day. Rather,
the entirety of that requirement may well turn on the employee's
voluntary decision to use an employer-provided vehicle, rather than
to use his own transportation."
BECCM has filed several counterclaims against Jackson, alleging
that he caused damage to the company regarding a particular contract
and that he misreported his hours to the company. Though the court
has declined to uphold either of these claims, Judge Moon did rule
that BECCM's conversion claims were "sufficiently stated,"
with regard to Jackson's use of the company vehicle for personal
"Based on the alleged restriction on the use of company vehicles,
Jackson's alleged personal use of a company vehicle would be outside
his permitted use, and therefore would be inconsistent with BECCM's
rights," writes Moon. Jackson had motioned that the claim be
dismissed-and with this opinion that claim was denied.
Neither John H. Kitzmann of Davidson & Kitzmann PLC, who is
representing BECCM, nor Robert Scott Oswald of Law Offices of Employment
Law Group PLLC, counsel for Jackson, was available for comment at
HERE for the full text of the recent opinion.
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