United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION
C. NUGENT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court upon a Motion for Summary
Judgment filed by Defendant, Monro Muffler Brake, Inc.
("Monro")- (ECF #57). Plaintiff, Jeffrey Hunt
("Mr. Hunt") timely filed a Brief in Opposition,
(ECF #62), and Monro filed a Reply (ECF #63). This matter is
fully briefed and ripe for review. For the reasons set forth
herein, Monro's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF #57) is
Hunt was hired by Monro on August 31, 2016 to work as an
Automotive Technician in its Service Store in Medina, Ohio.
Monro Service Stores offer general automobile maintenance,
repair, and brake services, and operates approximately 539
stores in 15 states. (ECF #62, p.7). As an Automotive
Technician, Mr. Hunt was responsible for diagnosing and
repairing vehicles, was required to operate lifts, welders
and brake lathes, and regularly lift up to 50 pounds. (See
ECF #57-2, Hunt Deposition at Ex. M)(hereafter referred to as
"Hunt Dep."). Mr. Hunt has indicated that at the
time he was hired, he received the Employee Handbook and a
copy of the overtime policy, both of which he reviewed and
understood. (Hunt Dep. pp. 53-54; Exs. OandP).
technicians also earned a commission/incentive each time an
invoice was generated for a customer in Monro's Point of
Sale ("POS") computer system and the technician
performed work for that customer. (ECF #57-1, p.3) Monro set
Mr. Hunt's commission rate at 11.5% of regular sales and
4% of tire sales. Mr. Hunt was paid a guaranteed hourly rate
of $9.00 per hour, and he was eligible to be paid time and
one half for all hours worked over forty per week. However,
Monro's overtime policy prohibits an employee from
working overtime without the express authorization of his
order to record employee hours, Monro's policy mandates
that employees accurately enter all hours worked into the POS
system at the beginning and end of each shift. The Employee
Handbook indicates, in part, that employees who engage in
unauthorized work or falsely record their time will be
disciplined and could be terminated. (See Hunt Dep. Ex O).
Monro's Vice President of Human Resources, Ed Mullen
("Mr. Mullen"), provides that Mr. Hunt was
disciplined on several occasions for violating this policy by
"inflating his time entries" into the POS (i.e.,
failing to clock out during lunch or personal time, clocking
in too early, etc). (ECF #57-3, Mullen Declaration at ¶
18)(hereafter "Mullen Dec"). For example, in
January of 2017, Assistant Manager David Turner completed an
"Employee Warning Report" regarding Mr. Hunt's
inflated time entries, and Mr. Hunt testified that Dave
Turner directed him to stop clocking in early. (Hunt Dep. Ex
X; p. 140). Another Assistant Manager, Alex Brandt,
("ASM Brandt") also reduced Mr. Hunt's inflated
time entries, and Mr. Hunt testified that those reductions
accurately depict the time that he worked. (Hunt Dep. p. 113;
Mullen Dec. at ¶ 13). Mr. Hunt also testified that
Market Manager Frank Fazio ("Manager Fazio") warned
him after Mr. Hunt "clocked in like ten minute early a
couple of days." (Hunt Dep. p. 139).
January 4, 2017, Mr. Hunt called Monro's Direct Access
Whistleblower Hotline to complain that "me and my fellow
technicians are being shorted our hours that we have worked,
[and] overtime." (See ECF #57-1, p. 7). Mr. Hunt was
informed by Monro that they would investigate the
Hunt's complaint was still being investigated by Monro on
April 3, 2017, when Mr. Hunt was injured after an air
compressor slipped and lacerated the palm of his hand. (Hunt
Dep. p. 19). Mr. Hunt filed a worker's compensation claim
for the injury and was advised he could return to work with
light duty restrictions from May 1, 2017 until October 27,
2017. However, "Monro does not maintain light duty
positions at the Medina Services Store, nor has Monro
provided light duty to any employee who was assigned to that
facility." (Mullen Dec. ¶20).
or June of 2017, a random audit of store purchases found that
Mr. Hunt purchased four specialty tires on December 1, 2016,
and signed for their receipt on December 7, 2016. (See ECF
#57-1, pp. 9-10). However, these tires were not attached to a
customer invoice, could not be located in the Store's
inventory and there was no record that the tires had been
installed on a customer vehicle. Furthermore, the tires were
incorrectly purchased through a "supply purchase
order," rather than an "equipment purchase
order." (Mullen Dec. ¶24). When Manager Fazio asked
Mr. Hunt about the tires on June 15, 2017, Mr. Hunt admitted
he signed for the delivery of the tires and installed them
onto a car5 but failed to "credibly account
for the [whereabouts of the] missing tires." (Hunt Dep.
Ex. S, Mullen Aff., ¶ 25). According to corporate
policy, Monro reported the tires as missing to the Medina
Police Department on July 3, 2017. Manager Fazio told Mr.
Hunt not to return to the Medina Service Store until the
investigation into the missing tires was complete. (ECF
#57-1, p. 10).
a subsequent audit of outbuy purchases, Monro found that ASM
Brandt also ordered specialty tires in December 2016 that
were not tied to a customer invoice or able to be located.
(See ECF #55-1, Fazio Deposition, p. 199). Monro filed a
police report for these missing tires as well. (Id.
at p. 201). Some time after this was discovered, ASM
Brandt was terminated from his employment at Monro. (Fazio
Dep. p. 138).
terminated Mr. Hunt's employment on November 15, 2017. In
the termination letter, Monro informed Mr. Hunt that
"[a] 11 employees in your region, who purchase and
receive equipment, merchandise or products that cannot be
accounted for, are immediately separated from their
employment." (ECF #57-1, p. 11, Hunt Dep. Ex U). In
fact, a separate random outbuy audit showed that another
employee in the region, Jay Dean, ordered four tires that
could not be located. A police report was filed and Jay Dean
resigned during Monro's investigation. (Fazio Dep, pp.
Hunt's Amended Complaint (ECF #27) sets forth claims for
breach of contract, failure to pay overtime wages, unjust
enrichment, promissory estoppel, federal and state disability
discrimination, workers' compensation discrimination, and
defamation. Monro argues that it properly terminated
Mr. Hunt for violating various corporate policies and for
allegedly committing theft of Monro property.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate when no genuine issues of material
fact exist and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-23 (1986)(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The burden of
showing the absence of any genuine issue of material fact
rests with the moving party:
[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of "the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with affidavits," if any,
which it ...