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Giguere v. Port Resources, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maine

October 23, 2018

DAVID GIGUERE, on his own behalf and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
PORT RESOURCES, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER

          NANCY TORRESEN UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Following a bench trial on the violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), and summary judgment in favor of named Plaintiff David Giguere on two state law counts, the parties filed memoranda to address damages due to Giguere. Def.'s Mem. (ECF No. 95); Pls.' Mem. (ECF No. 96). The parties also filed “Revised Joint Stipulations” addressing, inter alia, the back wages due to the collective action Plaintiffs under the FLSA count. See Revised Joint Stipulations (“Stipulations”) (ECF No. 94); Ex. A, Back Wage Chart (the “Wage Chart”) (ECF No. 94-1).

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         I previously ruled in favor of the collective action Plaintiffs on summary judgment on their claim for failure to pay overtime for sleep hours under the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 207(a) (Count One). Order on Cross Mots. for Summ. J. (ECF No. 66). I held a bench trial on the remaining collective action issues in Count One, specifically whether the Defendant had acted willfully thus triggering a three, rather than two, year statute of limitations, and whether the Defendant could establish a good faith defense, thus giving me discretion to decline to award liquidated damages under the FLSA. I found that the Defendant had not acted willfully and was not liable to pay liquidated damages under Count One because it established a good faith defense. The parties have stipulated to the amount of back wages that each collective action Plaintiff, and Giguere, is owed.[1] See Stipulations; Wage Chart.

         I also granted summary judgment in favor of Giguere on two Maine law counts: a breach of the Maine Wages and Medium of Payment Act, 26 M.R.S. §§ 621-A, 626-A, 629 (Count Two), and a breach of the Maine Minimum Wage Law, 26 M.R.S. §§ 663, 664, 670 (Count Three). After trial, I asked the parties to brief the legal issues they raised in connection with determining damages for Giguere's state law claims. I now consider whether Giguere is entitled to liquidated damages under either or both of the state law counts.

         STATUTORY OVERVIEW

         Under the Maine Wages and Medium of Payment Act, an employee cannot be required or permitted “to work without monetary compensation.” 26 M.R.S. § 629(1). An employer that violates § 629 is liable to the employee for unpaid wages plus “an additional amount equal to twice the amount of unpaid wages as liquidated damages.” 26 M.R.S. § 626-A. I shall refer to § 629 and § 626-A collectively as the “Wages Act” provisions.

         Under the Maine Minimum Wage Law, “[a]n employer may not require an employee to work more than 40 hours in any one week unless 1 ½ times the regular hourly rate is paid for all hours actually worked in excess of 40 hours in that week.” 26 M.R.S. § 664(3). An employer that violates § 664 is liable to the employee for “unpaid wages adjudged to be due, [plus] an additional amount equal to such wages as liquidated damages.” 26 M.R.S. § 670. I shall refer to § 664 and § 670 collectively as the “Overtime Wage” provisions.

         DISCUSSION

         Giguere argues that he is entitled to receive liquidated damages for both the Wages Act violation and the Overtime Wage violation because these violations constitute separate offenses. He asserts that because the purpose of liquidated damages under the Wages Act provisions is penal and the purpose of liquidated damages under the Overtime Wage provisions is compensatory, he can be awarded damages under both § 626-A and § 670 without receiving a double recovery.

         The Defendant counters that the Overtime Wage provisions provide the exclusive state remedy for the 1, 585 hours of unpaid overtime to which Giguere is entitled, [2] because violations of the Overtime Wage provisions will “almost always arguably constitute a violation of one or more” provisions of the Wages Act. Def.'s Mem. 4-6. Declining to find that the Overtime Wage provisions are the exclusive remedy for unpaid overtime hours would render those provisions effectively superfluous, the Defendant claims, because a plaintiff will always choose to pursue a claim under the Wages Act, since those sections provide twice the liquidated damages of the Overtime Wage provisions.

         I will first address whether Giguere is due liquidated damages under the Wages Act provisions and then will turn to damages under the Overtime Wage provisions.

         I. Recovery of Damages Under § 626-A.

         Giguere's argument for liquidated damages under the unpaid wages provisions is simple and convincing. The plain language of the Wages Act provisions requires compensation for all hours worked. 26 M.R.S. § 629. It does not exclude overtime hours. Giguere worked without compensation for 1, 631 hours-1, 585 overtime hours and 46 straight hours-and he deserved to be compensated for all of that time. Pls.' Mem. 2-3. I agree that the Defendant violated the Wages Act provisions by failing to compensate Giguere for any of the sleep hours that he worked, and so recovery under § 626-A is appropriate. The Defendant's argument that the Overtime Wage provisions should be the exclusive remedy for failure to ...


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