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Rosas v. Alice's Tea Cup, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. New York

July 6, 2015

DAVID ROSAS, JUAN PEREZ, IGNACIO TORRES, JOSE R. MALDONADO, ISABEL TORIBIO SOLIS, DAVID RIVERS-SOLIS, RAMIRO SALGADO-LANDA, ALFREDO ARELLANO-RODRIGUEZ, MARGARITO SALAS-FLORES, and MIGUEL A. RIVERA, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
ALICE'S TEA CUP, LLC, ATC II LLC, and ATCIII, LLC, and/or any other business entity doing business as " ALICE'S TEA CUP," located at 102 West 73rd Street, New York, New York, and 156 East 64th Street, New York, New York, and 220 East 81st Street, New York, New York, and ZHARIFF MELGOZA, and HALEY FOX, individually, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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          For David Rosas, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Juan Perez, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Ignacio Torres, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Jose R. Maldonado, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Isabel Toribio Solis, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, David Rivera-Solis, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Ramiro Salgado-Landa, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Alfredo Arellano-Rodriguez, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Margarito Salas-Flores, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Teofilo Toribio Solis, Plaintiffs: Peter Hans Cooper, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cilenti & Cooper, P.L.L.C., New York, NY.

         For Alice's Tea Cup, LLC, ATC II LLC, ATC III, LLC, located at 102 West 73rd Street, New York, New York, and 156 East 64th Street, New York, New York, and 220 East 81st Street, New York, New York, doing business as " Alices's Tea Cup" , Zhariff Melgoza, Haley Fox, individually, Defendants: Howard Matalon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Oleg Rabinovich, Esq, Staten Island, NY; Christian John Jensen, Olender Feldman LLP, Summit, NJ.

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          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         JAMES C. FRANCIS IV, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The plaintiffs, current and former employees of Alice's Tea Cup, LLC, ATC II LLC, and ATCIII, LLC (all restaurants doing business under the name " Alice's Tea Cup" ) bring this action against the three associated entities alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the " FLSA" ), 29 U.S.C. § § 201, et seq., and the New York Labor Law (the " NYLL" ), N.Y. Lab. Law § § 190, et seq. The parties have consented to my jurisdiction for all purposes pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). In response to discovery requests from the defendants, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a protective order. The plaintiffs also seek leave to amend the complaint. For the following reasons, both applications are granted.

         Background

         The plaintiffs allege that during the course of their employment, the defendants failed to pay them overtime compensation and a " spread of hours" premium for days when the plaintiffs worked more than ten hours. (Complaint (" Compl." ), ¶ ¶ 2, 4). The Complaint asserts claims against the three corporate defendants as well as Zhariff Melgoza and Haley Fox, who " own[] the stock of Alice's Tea Cup, own[] Alice's Tea Cup, and manage[] and make[] all business decisions," including decisions related to employee hours and salaries. (Compl., ¶ ¶ 110, 111).

         In discovery requests dated May 11, 2015, the defendants demand that the plaintiffs produce documents verifying their immigration status, work authorization documents, federal and state income tax returns, and documents " sufficient to identify the current employer" for each plaintiff. (Defendants' First Request for Documents (" Def. Doc. Req." ), attached as Exh. A to Declaration of Peter H. Cooper dated May 15, 2015 (" Cooper Decl." ), Request nos. 12-15, 33). The defendants also request admissions related to the plaintiffs' immigration status and authorization to work. (Defendants' First Request for Admissions to Plaintiffs (" Def. RFA" ), attached as Exh. B to Cooper Decl., Request nos. 1-15, 20). They ask the plaintiffs to admit that they " supplied false or fictitious [S]ocial [S]ecurity numbers" to the defendants

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during the course of their employment and that " none of the [S]ocial [S]ecurity numbers [the p]laintiffs provided . . . were actually issued to [them] by the United States Social Security Administration." (Def. RFA, Request nos. 11, 12).

         On May 15, 2015, the plaintiffs filed the instant motion for a protective order and for leave to amend the complaint. I will address these two issues separately.

         Discussion

         A. Motion for a Protective Order

         The plaintiffs seek an order " [p]rotecting plaintiffs from any discovery demand that involves plaintiffs' immigration status or citizenship at the present or any point in time," barring the discovery of the plaintiffs' federal or state income tax returns, and protecting the plaintiffs from having to disclose their current employer. (Notice of Motion at 1; Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a Protective Order and Leave to Amend the Complaint (" Pl. Memo." ) at 2; Reply Memorandum of Law in Further Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a Protective Order and Leave to Amend the Complaint (" Pl. Reply" ) at 6-7). Specifically, the plaintiffs seek a protective order as to the Defendants' First Request for Documents, paragraphs 12-15 and 33, and the Defendants' First Request for Admissions, paragraphs 1-15 and 20. (Pl. Memo. at 2). The plaintiffs contend that their immigration statuses, tax returns, and current employers are irrelevant to the current proceedings. (Pl. Memo. at 3-4, 6). The defendants oppose the plaintiffs' motion, alleging that the information sought is relevant to the plaintiffs' ability to recover under the FLSA and the NYLL as well as their credibility, and would explain the absence of some payroll records. (Memorandum of Law of Defendants in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Protective Order and Leave to Amend the Complaint (" Def. Memo." ) at 12-15).

         1. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow " discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). " Evidence is relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action." Fed.R.Evid. 401.

         Evidence that is irrelevant or may result in undue prejudice is outside the scope of discovery. A court may issue a protective order for good cause in order to " protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); see Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153, 177, 99 S.Ct. 1635, 60 L.Ed.2d 115 (1979) (" [T]he district courts should not neglect their power to restrict discovery where justice requires [protection for] a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense." (alteration in original)); In re Cooper Tire & ...


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