HIGGINSON, Circuit Judge:
Appellants John T. Martin ("J.T. Martin"), Johnathon R. Martin ("J.R. Martin"), Bradley D. Keyes ("Keyes"), and Marty Boger ("Boger") appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment on their Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") claims in favor of Appellees Spring Break '83 Louisiana, L.L.C. ("Spring Break Louisiana"), Mars Callahan ("Callahan"), George Bours ("Bours"), John Heremansen ("Heremansen"), and Randy Chortkoff ("Chortkoff"). We AFFIRM the district court's judgment, concluding that individual Appellees Callahan, Bours, Heremansen, and Chortkoff are not employers under the FLSA and that Appellants released any FLSA claims against Louisiana Spring Break by accepting settlement payments for those claims.
FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
Appellants J.T. Martin, J.R. Martin, Keyes, and Boger were employed as grips — lighting and rigging technicians in the filmmaking and video production industries — with Spring Break Louisiana for the filming of Spring Break '83 (the "movie"). Filming took place between October 6, 2007 and December 22, 2007 in and around Hammond, Louisiana. Throughout this filming period, Appellants were members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 478 (the "Union"). In October 2007, the Union entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (the "CBA"), with Spring Break Louisiana. Under the CBA, Spring Break Louisiana recognized "the Union as exclusive representative of the employees in the bargaining unit." In addition, the CBA outlined the procedure for Union members to follow when filing grievances against Spring Break Louisiana.
Toward the end of production of the movie, a number of parties to the CBA, including Appellants, filed a grievance against Spring Break Louisiana alleging that they had not been paid wages for work they performed. The Union sent a representative to investigate the merits of the claims. After his investigation, the representative concluded that it would be impossible to determine whether or not Appellants worked on the days they alleged they had worked. The Union and Spring Break Louisiana entered into a Settlement Agreement pertaining to the disputed hours allegedly worked by Appellants.
Before the Settlement Agreement was signed by Union representatives on November
In a 20-page Order and Reasons, the district court granted Appellees' motion for summary judgment on June 24, 2011. Appellants appeal that order, contending that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the Appellees because: (1) Callahan, Bours, Heremansen, and Chortkoff were employers under the FLSA and (2) Appellants' claims under the FLSA were not released by the Settlement Agreement.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
"This Court reviews summary judgment de novo, using the same standards as the district court." Haggard v. Bank of Ozarks Inc., 668 F.3d 196, 199 (5th Cir. 2012). Summary judgment is only proper where there is no "genuine dispute as to any material fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. When reviewing a grant of summary judgment, we review the facts drawing all inferences most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Reid v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 784 F.2d 577, 578 (5th Cir.1986). Moreover, we "refrain from making credibility determination or from weighing the evidence." Deville v. Marcantel, 567 F.3d 156, 163-64 (5th Cir.2009). "If the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, then there is no genuine issue for trial and summary judgment is proper." Weber v. Roadway Exp., Inc., 199 F.3d 270, 272 (5th Cir.2000) (citations omitted).
1. Classification of Callahan, Bours, Heremansen, and Chortkoff as employers under the FLSA
Appellants contend that the district court erred by finding that Callahan, Bours, Heremansen, and Chortkoff were not employers under the FLSA.
We apply an "economic reality" test to determine whether an individual or entity is an employer for the purposes of the FLSA. Gray v. Powers, 673 F.3d 352, 354-55 (5th Cir.2012) (citing to Goldberg v. Whitaker House Co-op., Inc., 366 U.S. 28, 81 S.Ct. 933, 6 L.Ed.2d 100 (1961), to affirm summary judgment holding that appellee was not an employer under FLSA).
Relevant to the first economic reality test factor, the Martin Declaration alleges that Callahan had the ability to hire and fire employees and that Appellant Martin had personally witnessed Callahan terminate employees while working on the set. Therefore, Appellants provided evidence that this first factor should weigh in favor of finding Callahan to be an employer. However, the Martin Declaration contains no evidence that the other three economic reality test factors weigh in favor of finding Callahan to be Appellants' employer. In fact, Appellants presented nothing to rebut Callahan's sworn declaration in which he states he was not Appellants' direct supervisor, he did not hire the Appellants nor change their pay, he did not maintain documentation of the Appellants' employment, and he did not exercise substantial control over the terms and conditions of the Appellants' work.
Specifically as to the second economic reality test factor, the Martin Declaration tersely states that Callahan, "would issue instructions to myself as well as other employees." However, considering the evidence that Joy Czerwonky, the Line Producer, was the supervisor of all departments of the production, including the direct supervision of the Appellants, this single assertion fails to show that Callahan had control over work schedules or employment conditions. See Weber, 199 F.3d at 272 (5th Cir.2000) ("If the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational
Specifically as to the third economic reality test factor, Appellants assert in the Martin Declaration that in response to a complaint about late pay checks, Callahan stated that he "would make sure that the employees were paid." However, the Martin Declaration itself separately states that "[w]hile working on Spring Break '83, any payroll, as well as that for all the crew was handled by a payroll company known as Axium." Because, according to Appellants' own evidence, payroll for all the crew was handled by Axium, a separate payroll company, the record, even viewed in the light most favorable to Appellants, shows that Callahan did not have control over the rate or method of employee payment. See Gray, 673 F.3d at 357 (holding that evidence that an individual occasionally signed checked and that employees told him how much money they made in tips did "not indicate that [the individual] determined the employees' rate or method of payment").
Finally, as to the fourth economic reality test factor, Appellants presented no evidence that Callahan maintained any employment records. Thus, the fourth factor does not support a finding that Callahan was an employer under the FLSA. See Gray, 673 F.3d at 357.
B) Bours and Heremansen
Appellants have presented no evidence of Bours or Heremansen's fulfillment of the four economic reality test factors. Appellants did not rebut Bours's sworn declaration that he was "largely responsible for the editing and post-production aspects of the film, and had very little to do with the day to day operation of the shooting" of the movie; he did not hire employees or change employees' pay; he did not make any recommendations regarding the hiring of the Appellants; he did not make decisions regarding the Appellants' pay and did not supervise the Appellants; he did not maintain documentation of the Appellants' employment; and he did not exercise substantial control over the terms and conditions of the Appellants' work. Similarly, Appellants did not rebut Heremansen's sworn declaration that he was not involved with the shooting and production of the movie; he was employed by River Sig, L.L.C. for the production of a television show named Casting Call; he was also employed by Spring Break Louisiana as a producer but was largely responsible for the editing, music and post-production aspects of the film; he did not hire Appellants or change Appellants' pay for the movie; he did not make any recommendations regarding the hiring of the Appellants; and he did not make decisions regarding the Appellants' pay and did not supervise the Appellants.
The Martin Declaration instead asserts broadly that Bours and Heremansen had "complete authority to investigate and resolve any issues relating to the final payment of wages." Although this contention relates to the third economic reality test factor, determination of rate or method of payment, this evidence will be considered in the context of the whole record of economic reality test proof. See Wirtz v. Pure Ice Co., 322 F.2d 259, 262-63 (8th
Appellants presented no evidence that factors one, two, or four of the economic reality test weigh in favor of finding that Chortkoff was an employer of Appellants. Appellants presented no evidence to rebut Chortkoff's sworn declaration in which he states that he was not involved with the day-to-day operation of the filming of the movie; he was not the Appellants' supervisor, nor did he direct them in any way; he did not hire the Appellants or change their pay; he did not supervise the Appellants; he did not maintain documentation of the Appellants' employment; and he did not exercise substantial control over the terms and conditions of the Appellants' work. As to the third factor, Appellants point to the Martin Declaration, which states that Chortkoff "was in charge of all the financial matters of the company including the payment of wages." However, again according to Appellants' own evidence, payroll for all the crew was handled by Axium, a separate payroll company. Correspondingly, Chortkoff states in his sworn declaration that he did not change Appellants' pay. Thus, Appellants' unsubstantiated contradistinction that Chortkoff "was in charge of all the financial matters of the company including the payment of wages" is not determinative. In the absence of any other economic reality factor, the district court could reasonably have found no genuine dispute as to employer status. See generally Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir.1994); Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92, 97 (5th Cir.1994).
In sum, as held by the district court, whereas the Martin Declaration failed to demonstrate the economic reality test factors, the individual Appellees presented evidence that they were not employers of Appellants under the FLSA. Though Appellants presented evidence that, viewed in the light most favorable to them, points to the first economic reality test factor related to Callahan, the district court properly concluded that a rational trier of fact would find no genuine issue of material fact where the three remaining factors, as applied to Callahan, demonstrated that he was not Appellants' employer. See Gray, 673 F.3d at 357. As to Bours, Heremansen, and Chortkoff, the district court similarly did not err because no reasonable jury could have found them to be Appellants' employers where none of the economic reality test factors dictated that conclusion. See id. ("While each element need not be present in every case, finding employer status when none of the factor is present would make the test meaningless."). Accordingly, the district court did not err by finding that Callahan, Bours, Heremansen, and Chortkoff were not employers of the Appellants.
2. Effect of the Settlement Agreement on FLSA claims against Spring Break Louisiana
The district court concluded that the plain language of the Settlement Agreement "is binding upon the [Appellants] in their individual capacities and
The Settlement Agreement also states that the Union "has the full power and authority to enter into this Settlement Agreement on behalf of IATSE Employees and bind them in accordance with the terms hereof." By this plain language, the Appellants, who were IATSE Employees, were bound by its terms. Appellants contend, however, that the Settlement Agreement is unenforceable because they never signed it or agreed to it — instead, the Settlement Agreement was signed by Union representatives. However, Appellants do not dispute that they received full payment for their claims pursuant the terms of the Settlement Agreement. Nor do Appellants dispute that they cashed the Settlement Agreement payment checks they received. The Appellants were members of the Union and, under the CBA, Spring Break Louisiana recognized "the Union as exclusive representative of the employees in the bargaining unit." Considering that Appellants, who were members of the Union, received and accepted full payment for their FLSA claims under the Settlement Agreement, the fact that Appellants did not themselves personally sign the Settlement Agreement does not render it unenforceable.
Appellants argue with more elaboration that even if they released their rights to pursue their FLSA claims in the Settlement Agreement, that release is invalid because individuals may not privately settle FLSA claims. The district court, noting
In Martinez, the plaintiff alleged that his employer owed him more than $3,000 in unpaid overtime, while the employer believed the plaintiff was only owed approximately $500 based on an analysis of the time cards. 361 F.Supp.2d at 612, 631-32. The court in Martinez held that the plaintiff's acceptance of a check for $1,000 for settlement of all overtime claims at issue was a valid release of the plaintiff's FLSA rights and was enforceable in the litigation that followed the settlement. Id. at 631-32. In reaching this conclusion, the court in Martinez noted, "parties may reach private compromises as to FLSA claims where there is a bona fide dispute as to the amount of hours worked or compensation due. A release of a party's rights under the FLSA is enforceable under such circumstances." Id. at 631.
Notably, in Thomas v. Louisiana, 534 F.2d 613 (5th Cir.1976), we held that a private settlement of FLSA claims was binding and enforceable where the settlement gave employees "everything to which they are entitled under the FLSA at the time the agreement is reached." Id. at 615. We explained that, "[a]lthough no court ever approved this settlement agreement,
Finally, Appellants contend, citing Barrentine v. Arkansas-Best Freight Sys., 450 U.S. 728, 745, 101 S.Ct. 1437, 67 L.Ed.2d 641 (1981),
For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellees Spring Break Louisiana, Callahan, Heremansen, Bours, and Chortkoff.