Argued: December 6, 2017
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Greenbelt. Peter J. Messitte, Senior District
Wolfman, GEORGETOWN LAW APPELLATE COURTS IMMERSION CLINIC,
Washington, D.C., for Appellant.
M. Maul, LAW OFFICE OF BRIAN M. MAUL, LLC, Frederick,
Maryland, for Appellees.
E. Breen, Student Counsel, Anna Deffebach, Student Counsel,
Hali Kerr, Student Counsel, Wyatt G. Sassman, GEORGETOWN LAW
APPELLATE COURTS IMMERSION CLINIC, Washington, D.C., for
MOTZ, AGEE, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges.
GRIBBON MOTZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Balbed brings this action, contending that her former
employer, Eden Park Guest House, failed to compensate her for
all the time that she worked and failed to pay her overtime
wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act
("FLSA"), the Maryland Wage and Hour Law, and the
Montgomery County minimum wage requirement. Balbed appeals
the district court's grant of summary judgment to Eden
Park. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Park Guest House is a small family-owned bed and breakfast
located in Takoma Park, Maryland. In July 2015, Eden Park
hired Balbed to serve as its innkeeper. The parties entered
into a written agreement, in which Eden Park paid Balbed
$800/month and provided her with a room in the inn, laundry,
utilities, and daily breakfast. In exchange, Balbed agreed to
answer phones, make reservations, reply to emails, check
guests in and out, serve breakfast to guests, clean public
areas and guest rooms, and manage Eden Park's social
agreement set forth a daily schedule that divided
Balbed's time into three categories: (1) serve breakfast
to guests daily (for a total of seven hours per week); (2)
clean the guests rooms and common spaces five days a week
(for a total of twenty-two hours per week); and (3) as
necessary, check in guests between 4:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and
close the bed and breakfast at 10:00 p.m. "unless
otherwise specified." Thus, the contract provided Balbed
would work 29 hours per week on the first two categories, but
did not specify the amount of time required for the third -
checking guests in and out, as necessary - or for the
additional duties listed that did not fall into any of these
three categories: answering phones, making reservations,
replying to emails, and managing Eden Park's social media
Park contends that the contract required 29 hours of work per
week, entitling Balbed to $1107.80/month. Eden Park
maintains that it compensated Balbed with an amount in excess
of this because it paid Balbed $800/month and provided her
lodging that it valued as worth between $850/month and
$1800/month. Balbed challenges that assessment of the
lodging's value and claims that, notwithstanding the
contract, she worked in excess of 100 hours per week nearly
every week without a day off.
Park employed Balbed from July 2015 through January 2016. She
filed this suit on January 19, 2016 and quit shortly after.
moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that Eden Park
could not receive any credit for her room and board, because
it did not maintain records of the cost of room and board.
Balbed also contended that Eden Park did not pay her a
minimum wage, because the cash payment did not compensate her
for all the hours she worked.
Park cross-moved for summary judgment, maintaining that the
parties' written contract constituted a "reasonable
agreement" under 29 C.F.R. § 785.23, and that this
exempted Eden Park from all other FLSA requirements. The
district court agreed with Eden Park, concluding that 29
C.F.R. § 785.23 carved out an exception to the other
FLSA regulatory requirements for recordkeeping and
calculation of in-kind wages. Because the court found the
parties' contract constituted a reasonable agreement
within the meaning of § 785.23, it granted summary
judgment to Eden Park.
review a grant of summary judgment de novo, viewing all facts
and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Libertarian Party of Va. v. Judd, 718 F.3d
308, 312 (4th Cir. 2013). Summary judgment is appropriate if
"there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and