Alejandro Munoz-Gonzalez, on behalf of himself, individually, on behalf of all others similarly situated, Susie Townsend, as administrator for the estate of Danual Martin, Thomas Acheampong, Kwame Gyamfi, Abraham Weinstein, Michael DeJoseph, Timothy Geiger, Peter Befi, Edward Dapice, Raymond A. Brooks, Richard W. Nosher, Jr., Daniel Bennett Lilienfeld, Edward Vasquez, Leonard A. Dimase, John A. Anderson, Dennis Saddlemir, Michael F. Curran, Frank J. Savarese, Edward W. Henry, Massimo Novello, Maurice Pearson, Darrin R. Dean, Abdelouahad Benouara, John Richard Tocco, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
D.L.C. Limousine Service, Inc., Chris Thornton, individually, John D'Agostino, D'Agostino, Melissa Thornton, individually, Defendants-Appellees.
Argued: May 24, 2018
Limousine Service, Inc. ("DLC") runs a chauffeured
car service in Westchester County, New York. Much like
taxicabs, DLC's cars pick up members of the public and,
for a fare, take them to their requested destinations. Its
drivers frequently work more than forty hours a week, but DLC
does not pay them overtime. Plaintiffs-Appellants, all former
DLC drivers, brought this suit for overtime compensation
under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29
U.S.C. § 201 et seq. The district court
(Oetken, J.) granted summary judgment to DLC, holding that
the FLSA's overtime requirement did not apply to
DLC's drivers because DLC is "engaged in the
business of operating taxicabs," 29 U.S.C. §
213(b)(17). We agree. Accordingly, the judgment is AFFIRMED.
Plaintiffs-Appellants: Jeffrey R. Maguire (Alexander T.
Michael J. Borrelli, on the brief), Borrelli &
Associates, P.L.L.C., Great Neck, New York. For
Defendants-Appellees: Joanna Sandolo (Daniel G. Walsh, on the
brief), Belowich & Walsh LLP, White Plains, New York.
Before: Livingston, Chin, Circuit Judges, Failla, District
Ann Livingston, Circuit Judge.
Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §
201 et seq., requires that employers pay employees
one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for every hour
exceeding forty each workweek. Id. § 207(a).
Drivers employed by employers "engaged in the business
of operating taxicabs" are exempt. Id. §
213(b)(17). D.L.C. Limousine Service, Inc. ("DLC")
runs a chauffeured car service that does not pay its drivers
overtime. Lead Plaintiff-Appellant Alejandro Munoz-Gonzalez
("Munoz-Gonzalez"), a former DLC employee, has
brought this case against DLC for overtime compensation under
the FLSA. The district court granted DLC's motion for
summary judgment, holding that DLC qualifies as "an
employer engaged in the business of operating taxicabs."
Id. On appeal, Munoz-Gonzalez argues that the
district court misinterpreted the word "taxicab."
consulted dictionaries, the FLSA and other contemporaneously-
enacted statutes, and related legal usage, we conclude that
DLC is "an employer engaged in the business of operating
taxicabs." Id. Three factors guide our
understanding of what a "taxicab" is-namely, that
it is: (1) a chauffeured passenger vehicle; (2) available for
hire by individual members of the general public; (3) that
has no fixed schedule, fixed route, or fixed termini. There
is no genuine dispute that DLC's cars, vans, and SUVs
meet this description, and so we conclude that DLC's
drivers are "employed by an employer engaged in the
business of operating taxicabs," id. §
213(b)(17). We therefore AFFIRM the judgment below.
runs a chauffeured car service in New York's Westchester
County. Though one company, DLC operates under two names: DLC
Ground Transportation Services and LSW Chauffeured
Transportation ("LSW"). The latter charges higher
fares and uses more expensive cars, the former is the source
of most of DLC's business, and both share the same staff,
dispatchers, drivers, and management.
fleet consists mostly of five-person cars, but it also has
some SUVs, luxury vans, and mini-coaches. DLC's vehicles
are not metered, nor do they have "Taxi" or
"Vacancy" signs on their roofs. DLC's drivers
must dress professionally in a black suit, white shirt,
company tie, black shoes, and black socks. They may not
choose their own jobs or pick up passengers who hail them
from the street; DLC's central dispatch, which passengers
call to arrange for pickup, assigns drivers all their jobs.
Drivers take the passengers wherever they want to go,
generally relying on in-car navigation systems for directions
unless the customer directs the driver to take a different
route. Most trips are local (less than seventy miles), but
passengers may book longer trips within the tristate area.
Passengers often prepay their fares before trips begin.
the time at issue in this case, most of DLC's work came
from trips originating at the Westchester County Airport,
where it operated a taxi stand. Its contract with the Airport
required it to list itself as an Airport Transportation
Service and a Limousine Service in the NYNEX Yellow Pages.
The second largest source of DLC's work came from
passengers calling DLC's dispatcher to request pickup.
DLC also received small portions of its business (less than
5% total) from contracts with:
(1) a local hotel that allowed DLC to keep a counter in its
lobby to serve the hotel's guests, in exchange for DLC
paying the hotel a commission for these rides; and
(2) PepsiCo to provide transportation to and from its offices
as requested. Finally, for some of its repeat customers, DLC
would instruct its drivers to charge certain fixed rates,
treat the passengers as "VIP[s]," and keep bottled
water and newspapers in the car.
the period relevant here, many of DLC's drivers worked
more than forty hours every week, but DLC did not pay them
overtime compensation. In 2003, a former driver sued DLC for
overtime compensation under the FLSA. DLC responded that it
did not have to pay the driver overtime because, as "an
employer engaged in the business of operating taxicabs,"
29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(17), its drivers were exempt from the
FLSA's overtime requirements. The United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York agreed and
dismissed the case. See Cariani v. D.L.C. Limousine
Serv., Inc., 363 F.Supp.2d 637, 645, 649 (S.D.N.Y.
2005). Since Cariani, DLC has renamed its upscale
car service to its current name, LSW, entered into its
contracts with the local hotel and PepsiCo, and increased the
size of its LSW fleet to as many as twenty-five cars.
December 2, 2015, lead Plaintiff-Appellant Munoz-Gonzalez
sued DLC in the United States District Court for the Southern
District of New York. He and approximately twenty other named
plaintiffs wish to represent a class of former DLC drivers
who, like the plaintiff in Cariani, are seeking to
recover overtime compensation under the FLSA. On July 12,
2017, the district court granted summary judgment to DLC.
See Munoz-Gonzalez v. D.L.C. Limousine Serv., Inc.,
No. 15-CV-9368 (JPO), 2017 WL 2973980 at *9 (S.D.N.Y. July
12, 2017) (Oetken, J.).
FLSA does not define the word "taxicabs," but the
Department of Labor's Field Operations Handbook (2016
ed.) ("Handbook") lists criteria to help assess
whether car services qualify for the taxicab exemption.
Applying the Handbook's criteria, the district court
concluded that even though DLC had some "recurrent
contracts" during the relevant period with a local hotel
and PepsiCo, DLC's drivers did not drive along
"fixed routes" and DLC served primarily local
needs, which, on balance, demonstrated that it operated as a
taxicab company. Id. at *4-5. Munoz-Gonzalez argued
that DLC is an "airport limousine service," which
the Handbook distinguishes from a taxicab company, because
most of its business comes from trips from the Westchester
County Airport. The court disagreed, reasoning that DLC
receives so much of its business from airport trips only
because Westchester County has little need for taxicabs
beyond shuttling passengers to and from transportation hubs.
Finally, Munoz-Gonzalez contended that DLC is not a taxicab
company because it assigns its drivers their jobs, advertises
itself as a limousine service, and charges higher fees than
ordinary taxicab companies. The district court concluded that
these factors carry little weight because the Handbook does
not list them.
district court entered final judgment on August 2, 2017.
review de novo the district court's grant of
summary judgment. See Ramos v. Baldor Specialty Foods,
Inc., 687 F.3d 554, 558 (2d Cir. 2012). Summary judgment
is appropriate if "there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). "We may affirm
on any ground the record supports, and are not limited to the
reasons expressed by the district court." Laurent v.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, 794 F.3d 272, 289 (2d Cir.
enacted the FLSA in 1938. See Fair Labor Standards
Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et
seq. Sections 6 and 7 of the FLSA, respectively, require
that employers pay covered employees a minimum wage and
overtime pay. 29 U.S.C. §§ 206, 207. Section 13(b)
of the FLSA exempts certain categories of employees from
overtime but not minimum wage. This case concerns §
13(b)(17), the "taxicab exemption," which exempts
from the overtime requirement "any driver employed by an
employer engaged in the business of operating taxicabs."
Id. § 213(b)(17). Congress enacted the taxicab
exemption in 1949. See Fair Labor Standards
Amendments of 1949, Pub. L. No. 81-393, § 11, 63 Stat.
910, 918.  DLC concedes that it does not pay its
drivers overtime compensation but argues that it does not
have to because it qualifies for the taxicab exemption. The
legal issue before us, accordingly, is whether DLC is
"engaged in the business of operating taxicabs."
Court has never interpreted the taxicab exemption before.
Both Munoz-Gonzalez's and DLC's briefs focus
extensively on how the Department of Labor defines the
taxicab exemption in its Handbook. But they have skipped a
crucial step. "In statutory construction, we begin with
the language of the statute. If the statutory language is
unambiguous and the statutory scheme is coherent and
consistent - as is the case here - the inquiry ceases."
Kingdomware Techs., Inc. v. United States, 136 S.Ct.
1969, 1976 (2016) (internal citations, brackets, and
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Barnhart v. ...