The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC and Shulman Kessler LLP File Overtime and Recordkeeping Class and Collective Action On Behalf of Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc.’s New York In-House Staff

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On November 20, 2017, Plaintiffs Margarita Gonzalez, Yudelky Contreras, Carmen Alvarez, and Pura Germosen filed a class and collective action complaint in New York federal court against Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc. (a/k/a Premier Home Health Care, Inc.).  The complaint alleges overtime violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law, as well as recordkeeping violations regarding required wage rate notices and wage statements under the NYLL.

Plaintiffs seek payment of unpaid overtime wages and associated liquidated damages, statutory damages for the wage rate notice and wage statement violations, and injunctive and declaratory relief.   

Plaintiffs also seek: (1) conditional certification of a FLSA collective consisting of in-house Premier staff employed at any time since November 20, 2014; and (2) Rule 23 class certification of a class of in-house Premier staff employed at any time since November 20, 2011.

The case is Gonzalez v. Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc., No. 17 Civ. 9063, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

For more information contact Cyrus E. Dugger at cd@theduggerlawfirm.com or (646) 560-3208.

CNN: Runway Injustice: How the Modeling Industry Exploits Young and Vulnerable Workers

That's the title of today's CNN article covering the NYC modeling industry:

From an analysis of pay stubs and financial statements, interviews with dozens of current and former models, attorneys, labor experts and even a former agency executive, a CNNMoney investigation has found that the fashion world often treats its models in ways that would be unheard of in many other industries. (link)

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In many cases, models say it's the agency (or management company, as some call themselves) that takes advantage of them. While they say the designers and brands they pose for can also be part of the problem, models interviewed by CNNMoney were more concerned about agency practices and didn't single out clients. (link)

While the article addresses multiple industry practices, it notes that the core of the problems stem from agencies' classification of models as independent contractors –- a classification currently being challenged as illegal by The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC in a lawsuit on behalf of Plaintiff Eva Agerbrink and additional fit models against modeling agency MSA Models:

The industry's labor issues often stem from the fact that even though models say agencies control much of their lives (down to their eating habits and the pay they receive), they typically aren't considered employees.
Clients don't typically claim them as employees either. Instead, models are left as contract workers in an industry with little oversight -- making it very difficult for them to challenge everything from wage theft to sexual harassment (link)

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That's because agencies don't classify models as employees, and as a result they avoid minimum wage laws (though several lawsuits are currently challenging this classification). And the countless hours spent at castings, test shoots and go-sees (meetings with agents or designers) usually result in no compensation at all. (link)

In September 2014, The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC filed what appears to be the first of these lawsuits challenging a NYC modeling agency’s classification of its models as independent contractors.  

Thank you to CNN for shining light on this industry.

Court Grants Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel in Race Discrimination Case Against 643 Broadway Holdings LLC d/b/a Bleecker Kitchen & Co. and Joshua Berkowitz

On December 10, 2011, Michael S. Douglas, Jr. filed a race discrimination complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court against 643 Broadway Holdings LLC(d/b/a Bleecker Kitchen & Co.) and co-owner Joshua Berkowitz.   

The complaint alleges that Berkowitz racially harassed former Bleecker Kitchen & Co. restaurant manager Douglas during his employment with Bleecker.  The complaint further alleges that Berkowitz was not aware that Douglas, who is Filipino and African-American, was black, when Berkowitz, using coded words, counseled Mr. Douglas against hiring black servers.   

On March 2, 2016, the Honorable Eileen A. Rakower ordered Defendants to produce all of the hard copy and electronic documents sought in Plaintiff’s motion to compel, with the exception of documents related to Gold Bar or Defendants’ assets.

The Court further ordered Defendants to provide an affidavit from someone with knowledge of the search conducted concerning requests for which Defendants claim documents do not exist, or are not in Defendants', possession, custody, or control.

The Court’s Order is available here.

The case is Douglas v. 643 Broadway Holdings LLC d/b/a Bleecker Kitchen & Co. et al., Index No. 162179

Mr. Douglas is represented by Cyrus E. Dugger of the Dugger Law Firm, PLLC and James Halter and Asa Smith of Liddle & Robinson L.L.P.

Court Grants Conditional Certification in Fit Model FLSA Collective Action Against MSA Models, Owner Susan Levine, and COO William Ivers

On September 26, 2014, The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC, on behalf of Plaintiff Eva Agerbrink, and similarly situated fit models, filed a class and collective action complaint in New York federal court against modeling agency MSA Models and MSA Models owner Susan Levine.

“Fit models” serve as human mannequins for the apparel industry during the clothing design process.

On February 2, 2016, the Honorable James C. Francis granted Plaintiff’s motion for conditional certification and court-authorized notice for a collective of all “exclusive” (i.e. exclusively signed) MSA fit models who signed with MSA Models between September 15, 2012 and the present.  Specifically, the Court authorized: (1) a sixty-day opt-in period; (2) the transmission of notice to potential members of the collective via U.S. mail and email; (3) a reminder notice to be sent twenty-one days prior to the close of the opt-in period; and (4) the filing of consent forms by Plaintiff’s counsel. 

The Court further ordered MSA Models to produce a computer readable list for all “exclusive” MSA fit models signed with MSA since September 15, 2012, containing their: (1) full names, (2) last known addresses, (3) phone numbers, (4) e-mail addresses, and (5) dates of employment and of their exclusive fit modeling contract term, including renewal periods, to permit Plaintiff’s counsel to disseminate notice of the lawsuit to potential members of the collective.

A copy of the decision is available here.

Previously, on January 7, 2016, Judge Francis granted Plaintiff’s motion to add all types of MSA models (i.e. fashion, lifestyle, showroom) to the putative class, with respect to a new class claim of unjust enrichment arising from MSA’s alleged retention of its models’ earnings based on a contractual liquidated damages provision in MSA’s modeling contracts.  In the same decision, the Court granted Plaintiff’s request to add MSA Model’s Chief Operating Officer, William Ivers, as an individual Defendant.

The case is Agerbrink v. Model Service LLC d/b/a MSA Models, No. 14 Civ. 7841, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

 

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MSA Fit Model Independent Contractor Misclassification Class Action Filed by The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC Moves Forward

On September 26, 2014, The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC, on behalf of Eva Agerbrink, filed a class and collective action complaint in New York federal court against modeling agency MSA Models and MSA Models owner Susan Levine. 

The amended complaint alleges that MSA Models and Susan Levine have misclassified their “fit models” as independent contractors in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law. 

Ms. Agerbrink, individually and on behalf of all similarly situated MSA fit models, seeks payment of minimum wages, payment of unpaid earned wages, liquidated damages with respect to minimum wages that were eventually paid but were not paid promptly, damages for violations of New York Labor Law recordkeeping requirements, and reimbursements for illegal deductions, as well as additional associated liquidated damages. 

Ms. Agerbrink also sought declaratory relief, under the Declaratory Judgment Act, that MSA Models is operating as an unlicensed employment agency in violation of New York General Business Law § 172, and therefore, could not prospectively enforce its modeling employment agreement with respect to all, or a portion of, the 20% commission it deducts from fit models’ wages. 

MSA Models filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on January 2, 2015.

On June 16, 2015, Judge Oetken issued an order denying the majority of Defendants’ motion.  Judge Oetken held that all of Ms. Agerbrink’s class and collective action wage and hour claims would move forward to discovery. 

Judge Oetken determined, however, that Ms. Agerbrink could not pursue a Declaratory Judgment Act claim regarding the prospective unenforceability of MSA Model’s contractual commission of 20%.   

As a result, Ms. Agerbrink’s class action wage and hour claims will move forward to discovery on behalf of all MSA fit models employed by MSA Models at any time from September 26, 2008 through the conclusion of the litigation.

The case is Agerbrink v. Model Service LLC d/b/a MSA Models, No. 14 Civ. 7841, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

For more information contact Cyrus E. Dugger at cd@theduggerlawfirm.com or (646) 560-3208.

The Face Modeling Competition Winner Devyn Abdullah Files Complaint Seeking Payment of Withheld Portion of Ulta Beauty Contract Award Against Direct Model Management, Inc. and Owner Mykola Webster

On April 21, 2015, The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC filed a federal complaint on behalf of Devyn Abdullah, the first winner of The Face television modeling competition, against her former modeling agency, Direct Model Management, Inc., as well as Direct owner and president Mykola Webster, and Direct head of finance Atiff Joseph, for violations of federal and state wage and hour laws, as well as breach of contract.  

The complaint alleges that Defendants misclassified Ms. Abdullah as an independent contractor in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.

Among other violations, Ms. Abdullah alleges that Defendants withheld, and otherwise failed to pay her, at least $13,000 of her wages from The Face competition award of a $50,000 contract with Ulta Beauty

The complaint also alleges that Defendants failed to pay Ms. Abdullah for work with several additional modeling industry clients.

Ms. Abdullah seeks payment of minimum wages, payment of unpaid earned wages, liquidated damages with respect to minimum wages that were eventually paid but were not paid promptly, reimbursements for illegal deductions, additional associated liquidated damages, as well as damages for breach of contract and New York Labor Law recordkeeping violations.

The case is Abdullah v. Direct Model Management, Inc., et al., No. 15 Civ. 03100, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

For more information contact Cyrus E. Dugger at cd@theduggerlawfirm.com or (646) 560-3208.

The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC Has Filed a Sex Discrimination Class Action Against the NYC Department of Education, Principal Rashaunda Shaw, Ast. Principal Dayne McLean, and Ast. Principal Sharon Spann

 

The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC and The Law Office of Daniela Nanau, P.C. have filed a sex discrimination class action lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education, Globe School for Environmental Research (“Globe”) Principal Rashaunda Shaw, Globe Assistant Principal Dayne McLean, and Globe Assistant Principal Sharon Spann. 

Plaintiff Lisa B. Deleo alleges violations of Title VII, the New York City Human Rights Law, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.


The amended complaint alleges that Assistant Principal McLean repeatedly sexually harassed Ms. DeLeo, culminating in a confrontation in which Assistant Principal McLean sexually gyrated in front of Ms. DeLeo while she was alone in her office.  In addition, the amended complaint alleges that, following Ms. DeLeo’s complaints of harassment, the New York City Department of Education, Principal Shaw, Assistant Principal McLean, and Assistant Principal Spann retaliated against her because of her complaints.

The amended complaint also alleges that the New York City Department of Education, Principal Shaw, Assistant Principal McLean, and Assistant Principal Spann have created and/or permitted a sexually hostile and retaliatory hostile work environment for non-management female employees at Globe.

Ms. DeLeo seeks certification of a class of all non-management female employees at Globe, from January 2012 through the resolution of the lawsuit, against the New York City Department of Education, as well as Principal Shaw, Assistant Principal McLean, and Assistant Principal Spann in their individual capacities. 

The case is Deleo v. New York City Department of Education, No. 15 Civ. 00591, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.


The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC and Liddle & Robinson L.L.P. File Race Discrimination Claim Against 643 Broadway Holdings LLC (d/b/a Bleecker Kitchen & Co.) and Joshua Berkowitz

On December 10, 2011, Michael S. Douglas, Jr. filed a race discrimination complaint in Manhattan Supreme Court against 643 Broadway Holdings LLC  (d/b/a Bleecker Kitchen & Co.) and co-owner Joshua Berkowitz.  The complaint alleges that Berkowitz racially harassed former Bleecker Kitchen & Co. restaurant manager Douglas during his employment with Bleecker.  The complaint further alleges that Berkowitz was not aware that Douglas, who is Filipino and African-American, was black, when Berkowitz, using coded words, counseled Mr. Douglas against hiring black servers.  Mr. Douglas is represented by Cyrus E. Dugger of the Dugger Law Firm, PLLC and Michael Grenert of Liddle & Robinson L.L.P.

The Dugger Law Firm, PLLC Files Independent Contractor Misclassification Class Action Against MSA Models and Susan Levine

On September 26, 2014, Eva Agerbrink filed a class and collective action complaint in New York federal court against modeling agency MSA Models and MSA Models owner Susan Levine.  The complaint alleges that MSA and Levine have misclassified their “fit models” as independent contractors in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.  Ms. Agerbrink seeks payment of minimum wages, payment of unpaid earned wages, liquidated damages with respect to minimum wages that were eventually paid but were not paid promptly, reimbursements for illegal deductions, as well as additional associated liquidated damages. 

In addition, Ms. Agerbrink alleges that MSA and Levine are operating as an unlicensed employment agency in violation of New York General Business Law § 172, and therefore, cannot enforce their modeling employment agreement with respect to all, or a portion of, the “commissions” that MSA and Levine deduct from their fit models’ wages.  The complaint further alleges that MSA Models’ deductions for “commissions” are illegal wage deductions in violation of New York Labor Law § 193.

Ms. Agerbrink seeks certification of a class of all MSA fit models from September 2008 through the resolution of the lawsuit.  The case is Agerbrink v. Model Service LLC d/b/a MSA Models, No. 14 Civ. 7841, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.