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Giguere v. Port Resources Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 19, 2019

DAVID GIGUERE, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff, Appellee/Cross-Appellant,
v.
PORT RESOURCES INC., Defendant, Appellant/Cross-Appellee. KELLON ALEXIS; SYLVIA OUELLETTE; LINDA PERRY; LEE SOUTHWICK; KIMBERLY FARRELL; MARY FEELEY; LINDSAY GAGNE; JERRY GARCIA; CRYSTAL JACKMAN; RYAN JARRELL; RENEE JORDAN; CHRISTINE POORE; BRIE GAIA REED; NEVERLY RUDA; ZU-CHYUN SPEAKER; RENOVAT BARAGENGANA; ROBERT BISSELL; THERESA BISSELL; LONG CAO; DARREN CHEVRIER; KENNETH COLE; CYNTHIA COOKINGHAM; SUSAN DESJARDINS; JOHN FARRELL; ROBERT BROGDEN; DEBRA DOW; PAIGE HARRIS; SUSAN MACDONALD; ERIC NKURUNZIZA; EULADE NKURUNZIZA, Plaintiffs,

          APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF MAINE HON. NANCY TORRESEN, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

          Timothy H. Norton, with whom Graydon G. Stevens and Kelly, Remmel & Zimmerman were on brief, for Port Resources, Inc.

          Peter Mancuso, with whom Andrew Schmidt and Andrew Schmidt Law PLLC were on brief, for David Giguere.

          Before Lynch, Kayatta, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          LYNCH, Circuit Judge.

         The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., sets federal minimum-wage, maximum-hour, and overtime guarantees. When an employer fails to meet these requirements, the FLSA gives employees a private right of action to recover their due. Id. § 216(b).

         These cross-appeals come from an action, brought as an FLSA collective action and as an individual action under analogous Maine labor laws, to recover what are alleged to be unpaid overtime wages. The employer, defendant Port Resources, disputes that such wages are owed. Under its sleep-time policy, Port Resources did not pay employees like plaintiff David Giguere for eight hours each night, even though the employees were on duty during that time.

         The district court found that this policy was unlawful, Giguere v. Port Res., Inc. (Giguere I), No. 16-CV-58-NT, 2018 WL 1997754, at *10 (D. Me. Apr. 27, 2018), and so awarded back wages to the collective-action plaintiffs and treble damages to Giguere, Giguere v. Port Res., Inc. (Giguere II), No. 16-CV-58-NT, 2018 WL 5268600, at *5 (D. Me. Oct. 23, 2018).

         Finding no error in the district court's carefully reasoned opinions, we affirm.

         I.

         A.

         Port Resources is a nonprofit organization that runs group homes (which it calls "programs") that provide housing and services to adults with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges. It uses a long-term-staff model to care for program clients. Its long-term staff provide daily living skills development, administer medication, and assist with personal care and community integration. And, true to that name, long-term staff work long shifts -- seven days on and seven days off, from Thursday to Thursday. One set of long-term staff alternates with another assigned to the same residence. Twenty Port Resources programs have this setup, and eleven of those twenty also have "overnight awake staff" responsible for attending to clients during the night, as necessary.

         A long-term staff's weeklong shift includes four four-hour unpaid breaks and eight hours of nightly unpaid sleep time. This sleep-time arrangement is governed by a written "Sleep Time Agreement," which provides in full:

This confirms the agreement between Port Resources and a Direct Support Professional who may be assigned to be on duty for one or more twenty-four (24) [hour] shifts.
Under wage and hour guidelines, 29 C.F.R. sections 785.22[1] and 785.23, where an employee is required to be on duty for 24 hours or more, the employer and the employee may agree to exclude from hours worked a bona fide meal period and a bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping period of not more than 8 hours, provided that adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night's sleep.
If the sleeping period is interrupted by a call to duty, the interruption will be counted as hours worked. If the employee cannot get at least 5 hours' sleep during the scheduled sleep period, the entire time should be treated as working time. The eight-hour sleeping period will be excluded from hours worked unless performance of work duties is required.
If the Direct Support Professional does have to work during the sleep period, they should record their time worked on the daily service charts and notify their Program Manager of the interruption so that their electronic time sheet can be corrected.
If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact the Director of Human Resources.

         It remains contested how often long-term staff must attend to the program clients during scheduled sleep time.

         Port Resources has chosen to compute its payroll workweek from Sunday to Sunday, so each long-term-staff shift spans two payroll workweeks. This means that Port Resources pays long-term staff for forty hours of work during their first payroll workweek (Thursday to Saturday) and for fifty-six hours of work during their second (Sunday to Thursday). Port ...


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