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Liu v. Rong Shing, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 26, 2014

WENG LONG LIU ET AL. Plaintiffs,
v.
RONG SHING, INC., Defendant.

OPINION

THOMAS P. GRIESA, District Judge.

Plaintiffs, a group of service employees, bring this civil action under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and New York Labor Law ("NYLL"). Plaintiffs have filed suit on behalf of themselves and all service employees who worked for defendants, owners of Suzie's Finest Chinese Cuisine ("Suzie's Finest"). Plaintiffs allege that defendants failed to pay proper minimum wages, overtime premiums, and spread-hours premiums. Plaintiffs seek to recover their unpaid wages.

In the present, unopposed motion, plaintiffs request that the court (1) conditionally certify this action as a collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) of the FLSA, (2) authorize the issuance of plaintiffs' proposed notice to all potential class members and (3) order defendants to provide contact information for all persons employed by defendants since September 21, 2009.

The court should grant plaintiffs' motion in its entirety.

Background

The following facts are drawn from the complaint and assumed to be true for purposes of the motion.

Plaintiffs were service employees at "Suzie's Finest, " a restaurant located in the West Village neighborhood of New York City. Defendants owned and operated the restaurant. Plaintiffs worked as waiters, kitchen staff, and delivery persons. The restaurant is no longer operational.

During the course of their employment, plaintiffs were paid on a monthly basis. Plaintiffs did not receive hourly wages and regularly worked over 65 hours a week. They were not paid the minimum wage for all hours worked and were not paid the proper overtime premiums. Additionally, defendants did not pay plaintiffs the spread-hours premium, which amounts to an extra hour's pay at the basic minimum wage during each day that an individual plaintiff worked over ten hours. Defendants did not keep records of plaintiffs' work hours.

Originally, two plaintiffs-Weng Long Liu and Jian Xing Weng-filed suit against defendants. Since the filing of the complaint, eight more former employees joined this action by filing consents to sue under 29 U.S.C. § 216. These additional plaintiffs also allege that Suzie's Finest failed to pay proper minimum wages, overtime wages, and spread-hours premiums.

Plaintiffs have personal knowledge, based on conversations that they have had with co-workers, that all service employees at Suzie's Finest were subject to the same unlawful employment practices.

Discussion

Class Certification

In order to satisfy the standard for conditional class certification pursuant to § 216(b) of the FLSA, plaintiffs must make a modest factual showing that they were victims of a common policy or plan that violated the law. See Amendola v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. , 558 F.Supp.2d 459, 467 (S.D.N.Y. 2008). Plaintiffs may meet this lenient standard by offering allegations of a factual nexus between them and their employer's alleged FLSA violations. See Diaz v. S & H Bondi's Dept. Store, No. 10 Civ. 7676 (PGG) , 2012 WL 137460, at *3 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2012). Plaintiffs may satisfy their minimal burden by relying on their own pleadings and affidavits, or the affidavits of other potential class members. Id.

In reviewing plaintiffs' request for conditional class certification, the court need not evaluate the underlying merits of plaintiffs' claims. See Indergit v. Rite Aid Corp., Nos. 08 Civ. 9361 (PGG) , 08 Civ. 11364 (PGG), 2010 WL 2465488, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Jun. 16, 2010). Plaintiffs' burden is minimal because the determination that the parties are similarly situated is merely a preliminary one, and that determination may be modified ...


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