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Mann v. Boeing Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

August 7, 2017

MARVIN MANN, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the Court on “Defendant Boeing's Motion for Summary Judgment.” Dkt. # 74. In this case, plaintiff Marvin Mann claims that defendant The Boeing Company (“Boeing”) violated Washington state law by wrongfully denying him overtime pay through improper invocation of the executive and administrative exemptions from Washington's minimum wage and overtime requirements. Boeing seeks summary judgment on the question whether plaintiff qualifies for the executive exemption. Having reviewed the parties' briefs, declarations, and exhibits, and the remainder of the record, the Court grants Boeing's motion for the reasons that follow.

         I. BACKGROUND

         From October 1996 to May 2002 and then again from June 2005 to November 2011, plaintiff worked as a skilled electrical installer assembling airplanes for Boeing. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 2; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 3; Dkt. # 75 at 74-75, 80-81. On November 4, 2011, plaintiff was promoted to the position of Manufacturing Manager (also known as a First Line Leader, or “FLL, ” with the job classification “DAKU-K”) in the Aft Systems Installation unit of the Manufacturing and Production Department for Boeing's 777 Program. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 2; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 3; Dkt. # 75 at 76. While working as an electrical installer, plaintiff was paid an hourly wage and was a member of the collective bargaining unit represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Dkt. # 76, ¶ 3. As an FLL, plaintiff was paid on a salaried basis and was no longer eligible for membership in the collective bargaining unit. Dkt. # 75 at 8; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 3; Dkt. # 75 at 44.

         The job description for plaintiff's FLL position states that the FLL

Manages employees performing activities within multiple manufacturing disciplines. Develops and executes business plans, policies and procedures and develops organizational and technical strategies. Acquires resources, provides technical management of suppliers and leads process improvements. Develops and maintains relationships and partnerships with customers, stakeholders, peers, partners and direct reports. Provides oversight and approval of technical approaches, products and processes. Manages, develops and motivates employees. . . .
Ensures that projects are completed on schedule and within budget. Has impact to own discipline or work unit. Decisions would impact the ability to achieve results and/or schedules. Directs daily operations of the work unit. . . . Directly manages non-management employees in daily operations.

Dkt. # 76 at 16-17.

         Plaintiff's main responsibility as an FLL was supervising a crew of approximately one- to two-dozen mechanics - electrical installers and assemblers; structural mechanics; mechanical assemblers and installers; and sealers - in the Aft Systems Installation unit, primarily during the third shift from 10:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Dkt. # 75 at 7, 9, 12, 117; Dkt. # 82, ¶ 20; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 12. Though Boeing internally designated this crew “Department 6027188, ” Dkt. # 75 at 10-11, 88-89; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 11, plaintiff knew the crew as “third shift aft SI, ” Dkt. # 75 at 96. The crew comprised a fixed roster of employees with fixed tasks, Dkt. # 75 at 91; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 11, and was primarily responsible for working on the 48-section joins and vertical fin joins of the 777 airplane. Dkt. # 75 at 10, 82, 92-94. Plaintiff was the sole FLL for this crew. Dkt. # 76, ¶ 11. As an FLL, plaintiff did not perform hands-on production work. Dkt. # 75 at 11, 49. Rather, plaintiff was responsible for ensuring that his crew worked safely and efficiently, and that they met all production, quality, and schedule requirements. Dkt. # 75 at 23, 101-02, 108-09; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 11.

         To establish these requirements, Boeing regularly gives all FLLs a chart of tasks to be performed by their crew within a two-and-a-half day work cycle, also known as a “statement of work.” Dkt. # 82, ¶ 38. While the FLLs and crew members are generally quite familiar with the tasks and the sequence in which they are to be performed, often circumstances arise that disrupt the ordinary sequence of tasks, and when this happens the FLL is responsible for reassigning crew members to work on an available task. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 38; Dkt. # 75 at 110-11, 118-19, 124-25. Team leaders - hourly crew workers with extra leadership responsibilities who report to the FLL - may also reassign crew members as needed. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 38; Dkt. # 76, ¶ 14.

         Plaintiff was also responsible for assigning overtime, approving crew members' timesheets, documenting infractions and taking disciplinary action against his crew members, informally settling crew member grievances, and ensuring that crew members kept current with all required training and certifications. Dkt. # 75 at 23, 46, 109, 112-13, 133, 137-38, 139-42; see generally Dkt. # 77. Additionally, plaintiff interviewed applicants for a team leader position on the crew; per the collective bargaining agreement, upper management ultimately selected the most senior qualified applicant for the job. Dkt. # 75 at 98. Plaintiff received over 80 hours of management-specific training during his time as FLL, Dkt. # 78, ¶ 3, and he received positive performance reviews, see Dkt. # 75 at 36-41; Dkt. # 76 at 29-46.

         Between November 4, 2011 and January 2013, FLLs were paid for any work in excess of forty hours per week at a rate of their regular hourly rate plus $6.50 per hour. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 5. In February 2013, Boeing changed its overtime policy so that FLLs were no longer paid an additional $6.50 for each overtime hour worked; instead, FLLs would be permitted to “flex” their time. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 6. In February 2014, the director of the Manufacturing and Production Department, Peter Johnson, informed department leadership that FLLs would no longer be permitted to “flex” their time. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 8. FLLs are, however, eligible for bonus compensation based on their individual performance. Dkt. # 76, ¶ 19.

         On September 11, 2015, plaintiff returned to his former hourly position as an electrical installer, where he is eligible for overtime pay. Dkt. # 76, ¶ 3; Dkt. # 75 at 33, 34, 49, 77. Due to his eligibility for overtime pay, plaintiff now earns approximately 40% more per year than he did as an FLL. Dkt. # 82, ¶ 12.

         On September 22, 2015, plaintiff filed this lawsuit, alleging that Boeing had violated Washington's Minimum Wage Act and Wage Rebate Act by erroneously classifying his FLL position as exempt and in turn failing to compensate him for overtime worked. Dkt. # 1. Boeing now seeks summary judgment on the ...

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