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Scarnici v. Town of Pittsburg

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

October 22, 2018

Vinny J. Scarnici
v.
Town of Pittsburg

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          PAUL BARBADORO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is an employment dispute between Vinny J. Scarnici and the Town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire (“the Town”). Scarnici worked for Pittsburg both as a part-time police officer and as the Town's Road Agent. He alleges that the Town did not pay him for certain hours worked, paid him a stipend that was below both his stipulated hourly rate and the minimum wage, and did not properly compensate him for overtime performed. Scarnici's complaint includes three counts: 1) violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), 2) breach of contract and the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and 3) unjust enrichment and quantum meruit. The Town has filed a partial motion for summary judgment challenging only Scarnici's FLSA claims.

         I. BACKGROUND [1]

         A. Facts

         Scarnici's FLSA claims are based on a number of discrete events that give rise to different alleged violations. I will address them in turn.

         1. Police Academy

         Scarnici was hired as a part-time police officer on December 31, 2013, and placed on the Town's payroll on January 1, 2014. Completing the police academy was a condition of his employment. He says that, had he failed to graduate the academy, the Town would have terminated him. He attended the academy from February 8, 2014, until May 9, 2014, when he graduated. He began working as an active duty officer on May 10, 2018. Approximately two weeks later, he received a check for $750 for his time at the academy, which was the only compensation he would receive for that period.

         Upset at the amount, Scarnici went to speak to Richard Lapoint, the Chief of Police. In his deposition, Scarnici recounted that Lapoint told him

that he had multiple conversations with the selectmen, and the selectmen decided that they were going to pay me a thousand dollars. And the conversation with him is that didn't even cover one week of gas driving back and forth to Concord, and I was upset. And I said I wanted to talk to the selectmen. And he said, and I quote, if you go to the selectmen, you will not work for the PD, end quote.

Id. at 38:3-12.

         Another officer, Brendon McKeage, told Scarnici that he was compensated portal to portal when he attended the academy.[2] Some years later, after McKeage had become a selectman, Scarnici spoke to McKeage again. In August or September of 2016, Scarnici called Selectman McKeage to complain about his compensation during his time at the academy. Scarnici told McKeague that Chief Lapoint

kept telling me, I'm talking to the selectmen. We're going to pay you. They're going to make a decision on how much we're going to pay you, when we're going to pay you. We might pay you at the end. We might just give you one big stipend at the end. Just keep track of your time.

         Upon hearing this, McKeage told Scarnici “that that's not the case at all.” McKeage had “said to Chief Lapoint, where is the time for the new man from Mass? Where is his paycheck?” As plaintiff relays the 2014 story, “Chief Lapoint said to Brendon McKeage, I made a deal with the new man. He's going to go for free.” In response, McKeage told Lapoint “wait a minute. Nobody goes for free. We - I don't even think we can make - do this. He needs a paycheck.” Lapoint then said (according to Scarnici via McKeage), “no, it's all worked out. He's not getting a paycheck until he starts working.” Some weeks later, Lapoint told McKeage, “he's not getting a check. We're just going to give him a stipend at the end, and we've made an agreement he's not getting paid while he's going to the academy.” Scarnici reported that McKeage “thought that was very bizarre, because no other police officer had gone through the academy for free.”

         2. Road Agent

         Scarnici was elected to serve as Pittsburg's Road Agent on March 10, 2015, and he began his employment on March 13, 2015. He argues that he was not compensated for duly earned overtime in that position.

         3. Other incidents

          Certain other incidents are addressed in the Town's motion without written response from Scarnici. A Bill of Services, for instance, details work that Scarnici allegedly performed in May 2014 using an all-terrain vehicle. See Doc. No. 15-5. At his deposition, Scarnici asserted that he was not paid for certain work at a Fourth of July police association fundraiser in 2014. See Doc. No. 15-2, 84:11-85:21. Finally, during the deposition, Scarnici produced a “list of everything that I did not get paid for from the police department.” Id. at 43:9-11; “Unpaid Wage Summary, ” Doc. No. 15-6. At the hearing on the pending motion, counsel for Scarnici abandoned his FLSA claims with respect to all of these incidents. Accordingly, the only FLSA claims that Scarnici pursues at this stage arise from his attendance at the police academy and his work as Road Agent.

         II. L ...


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