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Sandoval v. Starwest Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

July 18, 2018

ROSA SANDOVAL, Plaintiff,
v.
STARWEST SERVICES, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

          Anthony J. Trenga, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff has sued Defendants Starwest Services, LLC ("Starwest"), Ehab Khalil, and Tariq Algaily for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206 et seq. ("FLSA") (Counts I and V), breach of contract (Count II), quantum meruit (Count III), and unjust enrichment (Count IV). Plaintiff seeks damages for unpaid wages and overtime pay, compensatory damages, liquidated damages, fees, interest, and costs pursuant to the FLSA. On March 19, 2018, the Court denied the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment and on March 26, 2018, held a bench trial with respect to the following issues: (1) whether Plaintiff is an "employee" or independent contractor under the FLSA; and (2) if an "employee," whether Defendants' classifying Plaintiff as an independent contractor was in good faith and with reasonable grounds for believing such a classification was not a violation of the FLSA.[2] Based on the evidence presented, the Court finds and concludes that (1) Plaintiff was an "employee" for the purposes of the FSLA; (2) each of the Defendants is an "employer" under the FLSA; (3) Defendants failed to pay the Plaintiff regular wages in the amount of $6, 400 and overtime wages in the amount of $6, 354, for a total of unpaid wages in the amount of in the amount of $12, 754; and (4) Plaintiff is entitled to liquidated damages in the amount of $12, 754. Accordingly, the Court issues its verdict in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of $25, 508. In support of this verdict, the Court issues the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 52(a).[3]

         FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         I. Findings of Fact

         Based on all the evidence presented at trial, including the Court's assessment of the credibility of witnesses and the weight to be given each piece of evidence, the Court finds as follows:[4]

         1. Beginning in 2015, Plaintiff provided housekeeping services at a residence located in Great Falls, Virginia (the "House").

         2. During the time that Plaintiff provided housekeeping services at the House, the House was owned by Princess Michelle and Prince Saud and was occupied from time to time by Prince Bader ("the Prince"). The House was under the general supervision of the Prince's agents, Mr. Joseph and Dr. Nouri.

         3. Defendant Starwest is a concierge services company that was formed on or around June 2015. The company provided, among other services, cleaning and/or housekeeping services.

         4. Defendants Ehab Khalil and Tariq Algaily are principals of Starwest.

         5. From 2008 to 2015, the Plaintiff provided her services to the House through a company called Springvale and later on, a company called Nash. Under her arrangements with those companies, she worked on an hourly basis and was treated as an employee, with tax and other withholdings from her pay.

         6. In 2015, the owners of the home stopped using the services of Springvale and Nash and at the Prince's suggestion, Defendants Khalil and Algaily, who were the drivers of the Prince's friends, formed Starwest. In 2017, Starwest had two clients other than the Prince.

         7. In early 2015 (formally executed on March 4, 2016), Starwest and the Prince entered into a contract, under which Starwest was to provide the Prince house management services which included house maintenance such as landscaping and cleaning, as well as chauffeur services.

         8. Beginning in 2015, the Plaintiff entered into an arrangement with Starwest and continued to provide housekeeping services for the House through her arrangement with Starwest. Under that arrangement, Defendants designated the Plaintiff an "independent contractor" and paid the Plaintiff $20 per hour, with no withholdings.

         9. In addition to providing the Plaintiffs services, Starwest continued providing the services of Defendant Khalil as the Prince's limousine driver.

         10. Starwest has no individuals it considers to be employees and has designated Defendant Khalil as an independent contractor.

         11. Starwest had the right to hire and fire the Plaintiff; and direct the details of her work.

         12. The Prince, acting through Mr. Joseph, had the authority and the ability to supervise the Plaintiff and direct the details of her work, including setting Plaintiffs schedule. Although the Plaintiff was permitted to set her own work schedule when the Prince was not occupying the House, she worked on an hourly basis and ...


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