$235,920 in Back Wages and Liquidated Damages for Wage and Hour Violations by Nail Salon and Its Owner

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a court judgment and order requiring a luxury nail salon and spa located on Manhattan's Upper West Side and its owner to pay 32 current and former employees a total of $235,920 in back wages and liquidated damages to remedy violations of the overtime pay and record-keeping requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The judgment and order resolve a lawsuit filed by the department in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in September 2010 against Cindy's Total Care Inc., located at 491 Amsterdam Ave., and owner Nam Saeng "Cindy" Sim. The suit resulted from an investigation by the New York City District Office of the department's Wage and Hour Division that found salon employees were required to work more than 40 hours per week and not paid a premium wage rate for their overtime hours in accordance with the FLSA, instead being paid a set rate for the day without regard to how many hours they had worked. Many employees were paid on a day rate and working 10 hours per day six days per week. In addition, the defendants failed to keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid to the employees.

"These employees worked long hours and were unjustly denied their rightful wages," said Maria Rosado, director of the division's New York City office. "Vulnerable, low-wage workers in this industry often are afraid to step forward and complain when subjected to wage violations like the ones committed by this employer. This investigation and lawsuit should serve as a warning to other employers that the Labor Department will use every enforcement tool at its disposal to remedy such mistreatment. We are committed to protecting employees' rights and those of law-abiding employers who should not find themselves at a competitive disadvantage because others choose to break the law."

The court entered a judgment ordering the salon and Sim to pay a combined $117,960 in overtime wages plus an equal amount in liquidated damages. The court also ordered that the defendants be enjoined from violating the FLSA in the future and must pay $8,389 in trial costs. The suit was litigated by department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York City.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour as well as time and one-half their regular hourly rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate and adequate records of employees' wages, hours and other conditions of employment. The FLSA provides that employers who violate the law are, as a general rule, liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are paid directly to the affected employees.

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