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Farrah Kule-Rubin, et al v. Bahari Group Limited

March 5, 2012

FARRAH KULE-RUBIN, ET AL.,
PLAINTIFFS,
v.
BAHARI GROUP LIMITED, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



OPINION

Plaintiffs are former employees of Bahari Group Limited ("Bahari Group") who claim that Bahari Group unlawfully withheld wages owed to them and induced them to continue to work for Bahari Group based on misrepresentations that their past and future wages would be paid. Plaintiffs move for judgment on the pleadings with respect to four of their claims and also move to dismiss defendants' counterclaims.

The motions are granted, with an exception noted below.

THE PLEADINGS

The following allegations are assumed to be true and, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from plaintiffs' amended complaint.

Plaintiffs in this action are eleven former employees of Bahari Group.

Defendant Bahari Group is a corporation engaged in the manufacture, sale, and distribution of clothing. Defendants Reza Bahari and Fattaneh Bahari are owners of Bahari Group. Plaintiffs have also sued 5 John Doe defendants who, they claim, were also owners of defendant Bahari Group.

All eleven of the plaintiffs were employed by Bahari Group at various points between 1994 and November 30, 2010. Although their start dates vary, each of them was "terminated" by Bahari Group on November 30, 2010.

Plaintiffs claim that starting in October 2010, defendants refused to pay plaintiffs Lai Wan Ng and Moon Chan, but told them that if they continued to work for defendants, they would be paid all previously earned wages and all future wages. Ng and Chan continued to work for Bahari Group because they believed this promise. However, plaintiffs claim that defendants did not intend to honor this promise.

In November 2010, defendants stopped paying all of its employees, including all of the plaintiffs. Defendants told plaintiffs that if plaintiffs continued to work for Bahari Group, their wages earned to date and future wages would be paid. Plaintiffs claim that they continued their employment with Bahari Group until the end of November 2010 in reliance on this representation, but that defendants did not intend to honor this promise.

On November 30, 2010, defendants terminated all of the plaintiffs without making any further wage payments. Thus, according to plaintiffs, Ng and Chan were not paid in either October or November, and none of the other plaintiffs were paid in November.

Plaintiffs also claim that defendants failed to pay various other sums which they assert they were due. For example, three of the plaintiffs, Sheila Yen-Pfister, Lana Rybak, and Farrah Kule-Rubin, claim that defendants withheld their commission wages for periods of time beginning in July 2008. Plaintiffs also claim that defendants did not reimburse plaintiffs for expenses in connection with their duties as employees and unused and accrued vacation time. Plaintiffs also claim that the defendants failed to pay plaintiffs' health insurance premiums. The Answer and Counterclaims

Defendants answered the amended complaint on June 1, 2011. In their answer, defendants repeatedly make the following statement: "Defendants neither admit nor deny the allegations set forth in Paragraph [X] of Plaintiffs Complaint and leave Plaintiffs to their proofs." Of the more than 100 paragraphs in the amended complaint, defendants "neither admit nor deny" more than 50 of these paragraphs.

Plaintiffs now seek judgment on the pleadings on the basis of defendants' answer because defendants' answer does not deny many important facts. Thus, it is important to summarize the content of the paragraphs in the amended complaint that defendants neither admit nor deny. These paragraphs include the following:

* Paragraph 34, which provides that defendants stopped paying all plaintiffs in November of 2010 and that plaintiffs complained to defendants and requested payment of such wages;

* Paragraph 38, which provides that defendants made "unlawful deductions" from plaintiffs' wages, including requiring plaintiffs to incur expenses in connection with their duties as employees and failing to reimburse plaintiffs;

* Paragraph 39, which provides that defendants did not compensate plaintiffs for their unused and accrued vacation time;

* Paragraph 45, which provides that plaintiffs were "employees" within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and that defendants were "employers" within the meaning of the FLSA;

* Paragraph 50, which provides that plaintiffs were "employees" within the meaning of the New York Labor Law ("N.Y.L.L.") and that defendants were "employers" within the meaning of the N.Y.L.L.;

* Paragraph 51, which provides that defendants knowingly failed to pay the New York minimum wage as ...


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