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Chen v. Diana Oriental Nails LLC

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 27, 2017

HUA ZHU CHEN, Plaintiff,



         This matter comes before the court on Motion of Defendants Diana's Oriental Nails and Diana Tram for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. The Court has considered the written submissions of the parties as well as the arguments advanced at the hearing on November 14, 2017. For the reasons stated on the record that day, as well as those that follow, Defendants' motion is granted.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Hua Zhu Chen filed a six count Complaint alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act for failure to pay minimum wages, failure to pay overtime wages and improper diversion of tips, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§206 (a), 203 (d), and 216 (b). Chen also alleges similar violations of the New Jersey Labor Laws pursuant to 34:11-56a1(h). Defendant moves for summary judgment only as to the federal claims as plead in Count I, II, and VI, on grounds that Chen is not entitled to the protections of the FLSA because the nail salon did not generate gross volume of $500, 000.00 annually and/or because Plaintiff and Defendants did not engage in interstate commerce.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         “Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue of material fact and if, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Pearson v. Component Tech. Corp., 247 F.3d 471, 482 n.1 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986)); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (a). Thus, the Court will enter summary judgment in favor of a movant who shows that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and supports the showing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact by “citing to particular parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c)(1)(A).

         An issue is “genuine” if supported by evidence such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict in the nonmoving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is “material” if, under the governing substantive law, a dispute about the fact might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. In determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the facts and all reasonable inferences drawn from those facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).

         Initially, the moving party has the burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met this burden, the nonmoving party must identify, by affidavits or otherwise, specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.; Maidenbaum v. Bally's Park Place, Inc., 870 F.Supp. 1254, 1258 (D.N.J. 1994). Thus, to withstand a properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must identify specific facts and affirmative evidence that contradict those offered by the moving party. Andersen, 477 U.S. at 256-57. “A nonmoving party may not ‘rest upon mere allegations, general denials or . . . vague statements . . . .'” Trap Rock Indus., Inc. v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 982 F.2d 884, 890 (3d Cir. 1992) (quoting Quiroga v. Hasbro, Inc., 934 F.2d 497, 500 (3d Cir. 1991)). Indeed,

the plain language of Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial.

Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322. That is, the movant can support the assertion that a fact cannot be genuinely disputed by showing that “an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the [alleged dispute of] fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); accord Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(2).

         III. Analysis

         The FLSA regulates, inter alia, wages, hours, and overtime compensation and provides both individual and enterprise coverage. Genarie v. PRD Mgmt., No. 04-2082, 2006 WL 436733, at *5 (D.N.J. Feb.17, 2006). During oral argument, Plaintiff conceded that the type of coverage at issue here is enterprise coverage. Enterprise coverage protects employees who are “employed in an enterprise engaged in commerce or the production of goods for commerce.” Genarie, 2006 WL 436733, at *5. As a threshhold matter, enterprise coverage applies to employers that “[have an] annual volume of sales made or business [that] is not less than $500, 000.” 29 U.S.C. § 203(s) (1) (A)(i)-(ii); Juan Su v. Guang Yang Li, No. CIV.A. 10-5268 MLC, 2011 WL 3329882, at *1-2 (D.N.J. Aug. 1, 2011).

         Defendants submit an Affidavit of Defendant Diana Tram, the relevant tax returns of Diana's Oriental Nails, and a Certification from the tax return preparer Kenny Pham in support of its position that the annual gross revenue of the nail salon fails to meet the $500, 000.00 threshhold for enterprise coverage. The record reflects that the nail salon's gross revenue for the tax years 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 barely exceeded $100, 000.00 during Plaintiff's employment.

         Plaintiff fails to identify any evidence in the record to call the veracity of the tax returns into question. Plaintiff relies solely on her declaration which assumes wages based upon hours allegedly worked by all of the alleged employees, none of which were deposed or offered affidavits. In addition, in her brief in opposition, Plaintiff makes calculations based on her projections of all of the employees earned wages and other salon expenses without citing to any support in the record or authority. Finally, Plaintiff attacks the tax ...

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