In October 2015, Long Island employment lawyers, Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC, filed a lawsuit alleging that a Long Island gas station did not pay their client overtime for the 35 hours per week that he worked overtime. The firm also alleged that the gas station did not provide the client proper notice about his wages or proper wage statements when he was paid. On August 30, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Anne Y. Shields recommended to District Judge Spatt, that he order the gas station to pay $30,380 in damages, and $12,370 to F&W, for their work on the case.
In the gas station case, F&W filed a lawsuit to which the defendants appeared in and submitted a response, called an answer. However, in the course of the lawsuit, the defendants or their lawyer failed to obey court orders, failed to respond to motions, and failed to participate in the discovery process. Further, after F&W filed an “amended complaint,” which sought to add a defendant, the defendants failed to respond to the amended complaint by submitting an answer. Magistrate Judge Shields recommended that the defendants’ existing answer be stricken and that a default judgment be entered against all the defendants because of their exhibited “willful” failure to defend themselves in the lawsuit.
The Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law require that employers pay employees one and one half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for each hour that the employee works over 40 in a week. In F&W’s gas station case, the plaintiff worked 75 hours per week for nearly a year. The plaintiff alleged that he was not paid overtime for the 35 hours per week that he worked over 40. The Judge agreed and recommended that the plaintiff be paid $8,190 in actual damages and $8,190 in liquidated damages.
New York’s Wage Theft Prevention Act requires that employers provide written notice to employees of their wage amounts upon hire and provide wage statements detailing hours and pay rates at each pay period. The law provides that employers must pay statutory damages to employees when the law is violated. In the gas station case, Magistrate Judge Shields determined that the plaintiff was not provided any of the notices or statements required under the law and so he was entitled to statutory damages totaling $14,000.
Both the New York Labor Law and the Fair Labor Standards Act allow attorneys to be awarded fees when they successfully represent clients in cases alleging violations of the laws. To determine the fees to be awarded, courts first determine the reasonable hourly rates for the attorneys who worked on the case, and then the court determines the reasonable amount of hours for attorneys to have worked on the case.
In the gas station, Magistrate Judge Shields determined that $350 per hour is a reasonable hourly rate for Long Island employment lawyers Matthew Weinick and Peter J. Famighetti. The Judge further determined that the amount of time they recorded as having worked on the case was reasonable. By multiplying the hourly rate by the number of hours, the Court recommended that F&W be awarded $11,970 in attorneys’ fees.
Magistrate Judge Shields’s order will be sent to District Judge Arthur D. Spatt for review. The plaintiff and defendant will have an opportunity to object to Magistrate Judge Shields’s recommendation, and then Judge Spatt will issue an order.
If you have questions about unpaid wages or overtime, contact the Long Island employment lawyers of Famighetti & Weinick, PLLC at 631-352-0050 or visit our website at http://linycemploymentlaw.com.
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