Katalina Cleaners, Inc. and one individual owner have been named as defendants in a proposed collective action alleging wage and hour violations. The defendants, who collectively own a New York dry cleaning business named Four Park Avenue Cleaners, are accused of violating the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL).
The plaintiff was ostensibly employed as a delivery worker at the defendants’ dry-cleaning business from December 2006 to July 2018. The suit explains, however, that the plaintiff spent over 20 percent of each workday performing non-tipped duties, including working the counter and cleaning, meaning that the defendants allegedly were not entitled to take a tip credit against his wages under the FLSA and NYLL. From the complaint:
“Defendants employed the policy and practice of disguising Plaintiff Tapia’s actual duties in payroll records by designating him as a delivery worker instead of as a non-tipped employee. This allowed Defendants to avoid paying Plaintiff Tapia at the minimum wage rate and enabled them to pay him above the tip-credit rate, but below the minimum wage.”
The plaintiff further alleges that he regularly worked over 40 hours each week at the cleaner without appropriate overtime or “spread-of-hours” pay. Specifically, the suit alleges that from July 2012 until the end of the plaintiff’s employment, he typically worked 58 hours each week without premium time-and-a-half overtime wages or an extra hour’s pay for each shift he worked that lasted longer than 10 hours. According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was compensated with a fixed salary of $480 per week from the beginning of his employment until December 2015, and $620 per week from January 2016 until the end of his employment. This fixed salary did not vary even when the plaintiff was required to continue working after his shift ended or work a longer day than originally scheduled, the suit claims.
The defendants are also accused of failing to properly notify the plaintiff that his tips were being included as an offset for wages and failing to provide him with an accurate statement of wages as mandated by NYLL.