United States District Court, D. Alaska
R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff,
STATE OF ALASKA, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Defendant.
Russel Holland, United States District Judge.
for Summary Judgment
moves for partial summary judgment and the issuance of a
permanent injunction. This motion is opposed, and defendant
cross-moves for summary judgment.
cross-motion is opposed. Oral argument was not requested and is
not deemed necessary.
is R. Alexander Acosta, the Secretary of Labor. Defendant is
the State of Alaska, Department of Transportation and Public
case involves the calculation of leave under the Family
Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for defendant's employees who
work on vessels on the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).
“AMHS employees' work schedules are established in
collective bargaining agreements.” Some of the AMHS
employees work on a rotational basis. For example, some
employees work one week on and one week off, and some work
two weeks on and two weeks off. Some employees even have the
option of working four weeks on and four weeks off.
“Schedules are selected and set two weeks in advance
for unlicensed employees and typically on a quarterly basis
for licensed employees[.]”
alleges that since June 2014, defendant has
“miscalculated the amount of leave to which rotational
employees are entitled” under the FMLA. Section
2612(a)(1) of the FMLA provides eligible employees with the
general entitlement of “a total of 12 workweeks of
leave during any 12-month period. . . .” 29 U.S.C.
§ 2612(a)(1). These twelve workweeks of FMLA leave may
be taken in one continuous block or an employee may take FMLA
leave “intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule
when medically necessary.” 29 U.S.C. § 2612(b)(1).
This case involves FMLA leave taken in one continuous block
pursuant to Section 2612(a).
alleges that defendant is miscalculating FMLA leave for
rotational employees “by improperly considering the
weeks the rotational employees are not scheduled to work as
workweeks” and “subtracting that time from the
eligible employees' 12 workweek entitlement. . .
.” Defendant contends that counting weeks
that rotational employees are not scheduled to work for
purposes of calculating FMLA leave “would lead to
extraordinary complexity and unpredictability for the AMHS
and unequal treatment for employees.”
commenced this action on August 16, 2017. Plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief enjoining defendant from violating the FMLA
in the future and monetary damages and other relief on behalf
of any rotational employees who have been harmed by
October 18, 2017, defendant moved to dismiss plaintiff's
complaint for failure to state a plausible claim. Defendant
argued that “plaintiff ha[d] failed to state a
plausible claim for relief because plaintiff's
interpretation of the FMLA 12-week leave entitlement as it
applies to rotational employees [was] not
reasonable.” The court rejected defendant's
argument because it found that plaintiff's interpretation
of the 12-week leave entitlement as it applied to rotational
employees was reasonable. Thus, the court found that
plaintiff had stated a plausible claim.
now moves for partial summary judgment on three issues: 1)
that this court has subject matter jurisdiction of this
action, 2) that defendant is an employer which employs
eligible employees under the FMLA, and 3) that
defendant's practice of calculating FMLA leave to include
weeks when a rotational employee is not scheduled to work
violates the FMLA. In addition, plaintiff requests that the
court enter a permanent injunction enjoining defendant from
continuing to violate the FMLA by calculating FMLA leave to
include weeks when a rotational employee is not scheduled to
work. Defendant cross-moves for summary judgment that
calculating FMLA leave to include weeks when a rotational
employee is not scheduled to work does not violate the FMLA.
judgment is appropriate when there are no genuine issues of
material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The initial burden is on
the moving party to show that there is an absence of genuine
issues of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the moving party meets its
initial burden, then the non-moving party must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 247-48 (1986).
deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court views the
evidence of the non-movant in the light most favorable to
that party, and all justifiable inferences are also to be
drawn in its favor. Id. at 255. “[T]he
court's ultimate inquiry is to determine whether the
‘specific facts' set forth by the nonmoving party,
coupled with undisputed background or contextual facts, are
such that a rational or reasonable jury might return a
verdict in its favor based on that evidence.” T.W.
Elec. Service, Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors
Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).
“[W]hen parties submit cross-motions for summary
judgment, each motion must be considered on its own
merits.” Fair Housing Council of Riverside County,
Inc. v. Riverside Two, 249 F.3d 1132, 1136 (9th Cir.
2001) (citation omitted).
first moves for summary judgment that this court has subject
matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on
this issue because in its answer, defendant denied that the
court had subject matter jurisdiction.
court has an ‘independent obligation to determine
whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.'” Corral
v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., 878 F.3d 770, 773
(9th Cir. 2017) (quoting Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp.,
546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006)). The court has always had federal
question jurisdiction of this matter. Plaintiff's motion
for summary judgment on this issue was unnecessary.
plaintiff moves for summary judgment that defendant is an
employer which employs eligible employees under the FMLA.
Plaintiff has so moved because in its answer, defendant
appeared to deny that it was an employer which employed
eligible employees under the FMLA. Defendant has since
advised plaintiff that this issue is not contested,
and defendant makes no argument in
response to plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on
this issue. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment that
defendant is an employer which employs eligible employees
under the FMLA is granted.
plaintiff argues that it is entitled to summary judgment that
defendant's calculation of FMLA leave for rotational
employees to include weeks that rotational employees are not
scheduled to work violates the FMLA. Plaintiff basically asks
that the court reaffirm the ruling it made on defendant's
motion to dismiss.
order denying defendant's motion to dismiss, the court
reviewed plaintiff's interpretation of Section 2612(a)
“under the familiar two-step framework set forth in
Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984).” Ctr. for
Biological Diversity v. Salazar, 695 F.3d 893, 902 (9th
Cir. 2012). First, the court considered whether Congress had
spoken to the precise question of how to calculate leave for
rotational employees and concluded that it had
not. Second, the court considered whether
plaintiff's interpretation of Section 2612(a) ...