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Villarreal v. Aircom Mechanical, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

January 23, 2015

ADAM VILLARREAL, Plaintiff,
v.
AIRCOM MECHANICAL, INC.; SCOTT GOLDBERG; and DANIEL MUNIER, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION, FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

HOWARD R. LLOYD, Magistrate Judge.

This case was tried to the court October 9-10, 2014. Counsel filed closing briefs and the matter was taken under submission. The court now issues its Memorandum of Decision (Memorandum), Findings of Fact (Findings), and Conclusions of Law (Conclusions).[1]

The court has endeavored to avoid commingling findings of fact with conclusions of law. However, if any conclusion has inadvertently been labeled as a finding of fact (or vice versa), it should be considered in its true light regardless of the label on it.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

A. Summary of Facts

Defendant Aircom Mechanical, Inc. is a Sacramento-based Heating, Ventilation and Air Condition ("HVAC") firm with a satellite office in Milpitas. Defendant Scott Goldberg is the President/CEO of Aircom. Plaintiff Adam J. Villarreal worked for Defendants as a HVAC repairman.

In July 2012, Aircom hired Plaintiff as an apprentice field technician on a probationary basis, for $16 an hour. Plaintiff first trained under the supervision of a service superintendent. Once the training period ended, Plaintiff was assigned to work independently on non-emergency and preventive maintenance jobs. Plaintiff was allowed to use a company vehicle for commuting to the various maintenance jobs or to the office.

When he was first hired, Plaintiff was given a copy of Aircom's employment handbook, which contained Aircom's company policies. The employee handbook requires employees to record the actual time spent on each task performed, and does not distinguish between driving time between jobs, time spent performing HVAC maintenance work, and preparing reports.

Plaintiff was required to manually track the hours that he worked. Plaintiff was given Service Technician Time Logs to complete and turn in on a weekly basis. Plaintiff certified the time logs as "true and complete." However, Plaintiff claims that the entries on the time logs for each job reflect the time allotted by Aircom for completing it, as opposed to the actual time he worked. In addition, Plaintiff claims that he did not record driving time, breaks, or time spent preparing reports in his time logs. Plaintiff also claims that he did not take lunch breaks when he was working alone in the field. During his employment, Plaintiff did not inform anyone at Aircom that the hours recorded in his time logs did not accurately reflect the number of hours worked.

In November 2012, Plaintiff was terminated for poor performance and disrespect to his supervisors.

In January 2013, Plaintiff filed suit against Aircom, Goldberg, and Daniel Munier.[2] The first amended complaint (the operative complaint) asserts: (1) failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 207, 216(b), and 255(a); (2) violation of statutory duty for breach of California Labor Code §§ 1194, 1194.2, 1771, and 1774; (3) violation of California Labor Code § 226 (wage stubs and record keeping); (4) failure to provide rest periods or compensation in lieu thereof in violation of California Labor Code §§ 203, 226, 226.7, 1194, and Wage Orders; (5) failure to provide meal periods or compensation in lieu thereof in violation of California Labor Code §§ 203, 226, 226.7, 512, and 1194; (6) violation of California Labor Code § 203 (waiting time penalties); and (7) penalties and wages for labor violating pursuant to California Labor Code §§ 2698 and 558. Each of these claims will be addressed in turn.

B. Unpaid Wages (Claims 1 and 2)

1. Hours Worked Beyond Time Logs

At trial, Plaintiff testified that he was instructed to record on his time logs the time allotted by Aircom for completing each maintenance job, as opposed to the actual time worked. According to Plaintiff, for jobs that were allotted between one and two hours, the allotted time was insufficient for driving to the job site and performing the assigned preventive maintenance. As a result, the time that Plaintiff recorded on his time logs did not include the time spent driving between job sites. Plaintiff also did not record the time he spent preparing reports, and driving to the office to pick up filters and drop off or pick up paperwork. According to Plaintiff, this means that Plaintiff was not compensated for this time spent driving between job sites, preparing reports, and driving to the office.

Plaintiff's allegation that he was instructed to record the time allotted for each maintenance job on his time logs is supported only by his own testimony. At trial, Plaintiff testified that Antonio Pino, Aircom's field foreman, told him to record the allotted time from the preventive maintenance reports on his time logs. During his deposition taken eight months earlier, however, Plaintiff testified that he recorded the allotted time on his time logs because he was "fresh out of school" and "didn't really want to create a rift." Villarreal Dep. at 51. Pino testified at trial that he did not tell Plaintiff to record the allotted time for the preventive maintenance jobs on his time logs.

In regards to the actual number of hours Plaintiff claims to have worked in addition to the hours recorded on his time logs, Plaintiff's testimony is highly inconsistent. First, Plaintiff's testimony at trial contradicted his deposition testimony, in regards to both the amount of additional time worked and the tasks performed during that time. For instance, in his deposition, Plaintiff testified that on September 13, 2012, he spent an additional 45 minutes driving between jobs. During trial, however, Plaintiff testified that on September 13, he spent an additional hour drafting proposals. Furthermore, during his deposition, Plaintiff testified that he spent an additional 30 minutes driving on July 30, 2012. During trial, however, Plaintiff testified that on July 30, he spent an additional 30 minutes writing proposals. Moreover, Plaintiff testified at his deposition that he did not recall working any overtime after October 6, 2012. At trial, however, Plaintiff testified that he was not paid for three hours of overtime on October 8, 2012 and 2.5 hours of overtime on October 9, 2012.

Second, Plaintiff's testimony during direct examination contradicted his testimony during cross-examination. During direct examination, Plaintiff testified that he worked an additional three hours on October 8, 2012 and an additional 2.5 hours on October 9, 2012. During cross-examination, however, Plaintiff testified that he ...


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