Pest v. Bridal Works of N.Y., Inc.

Decision Date27 July 2017
Docket Number16 CV 1523 (CLP)
Citation268 F.Supp.3d 413
Parties Irena PEST, Plaintiff, v. BRIDAL WORKS OF NEW YORK, INC. and Aleksandra Bach, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York

Andrew R. Sack, Scott A. Lucas, Law Offices of Scott A. Lucas, New York, NY, for Plaintiff.

Harvey S. Mars, Jacob Korder, Law Office of Harvey S. Mars LLC, New York, NY, for Defendants.


POLLAK, United States Magistrate Judge:

On March 29, 2016, Irena Pest ("plaintiff") filed this action against Bridal Works of New York Inc. and Aleksandra Bach (collectively, "defendants"), seeking unpaid overtime wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs, under the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 etseq., and New York Labor Law ("NYLL") §§ 650 etseq. The Complaint also alleges violations of the requirements to provide wage notices and accurate wage statements under the NYLL and New York Wage Theft Prevention Act. On January 23, 2017, the parties consented to proceed before the undersigned for all further proceedings.

On March 17, 2017, defendants filed a motion seeking summary judgment on all of plaintiffs claims. On April 5, 2017, plaintiff filed her response in opposition to defendants' summary judgment motion.

For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies defendants' motion for summary judgment.


Plaintiff commenced this action against Bridal Works of New York, Inc., a bridal garment manufacturer ("Bridal Works"), and individual defendant Aleksandra Bach, seeking damages for claims of unpaid wages and wage notice violations. (Compl.1 ¶ 26). Plaintiff claims that during the period from June 2000 to May 2014, she was employed by defendants as a seamstress, "altering, fixing and creating bridal garments." (Id. ¶¶ 1, 10). Plaintiff alleges that during her employment, Aleksandra Bach was the owner and CEO of Bridal Works and "actively participated in determining employee compensation." (Id. ¶¶ 25–27).

There is no dispute that defendant Bridal Works is a bridal garment manufacturer that was incorporated in New York in or around June 2000. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt2 ¶¶ 1–2; Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt3 ¶¶ 1–2). Prior to 2000, Bridal Works was owned by Marek Kwoka and operated under the name "Philmar." (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 3; Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 3). Defendants contend that defendant Bach was hired by Philmar in or around 1993 as a pieceworker, and her employment ended in or around 1995 because Philmar did not have enough work. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 5, 6; Bach Decl.4 ¶ 7). Defendants claim that Bach had no ownership interest or managerial authority at Philmar. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 7; Bach Decl. ¶ 8).

In approximately June 2000, Bach's husband, Jan Marek Bach, who had been a manager at Philmar, purchased the business and began operating it as "Bridal Works of New York." (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 8). Jan Marek Bach died in or around April 2004, and Alexsandra Bach became the owner of Bridal Works. (Id. ¶ 9; Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 9). Defendant Bach claims that until her husband's death, she was not involved in Bridal Works as an employee, manager, supervisor or owner. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 10; Bach Decl. ¶ 11).

It is undisputed that plaintiff Pest was employed by Philmar from approximately 1995 until June 2000 and then by Bridal Works from June 2000 until May 2014. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 11; Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 11). Defendants contend that as a Bridal Works employee, plaintiff sewed bridal garments at the factory in Brooklyn, N.Y. and that she was a "pieceworker." (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 11, 12). Plaintiff admits that she sewed bridal garments, but claims that she also performed a half hour of cleanup and maintenance work everyday, including replenishing fibers and cleaning her machine, which was not compensated by her piecework wages. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 11(a), 12(a)).

Defendants contend that plaintiff was paid weekly based on tags that were attached to each garment denoting the amount plaintiff would receive for sewing that garment. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 14,15; Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 14,15). Defendants claim that the amount of wages plaintiff was paid was equal to the amounts set out on the tags affixed to the items she had sewn during the applicable period and that with each week's payment, defendants provided her with a statement showing, among other things, the method of calculating her wages, her gross wages, withholdings and deductions, and net wages. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 16; Bach Decl. ¶ 17; Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 15, 16). Defendants contend that regardless of how many hours plaintiff worked, her piecework wages covered her hours spent during both non-overtime and overtime hours, and covered any other tasks, such as cleaning her machine and work area. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 17–18, 19).

Plaintiff disputes that her piecework pay compensated her for all of her work and she denies that she was compensated for the approximately 30 minutes of daily clean-up and maintenance work. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 15(a)). She also disputes that she received proper paystubs and earnings statements. (Id. ¶ 16). Instead, she claims that while the earnings statements listed her name, Bridal Works' name and address (but no phone number), she disputes that the word "piecework" adequately explains how her wages were calculated because the pay rate heading was left blank and the paystubs falsely indicated that her weekly hours were "40:00." (Id. )

The parties dispute how many hours plaintiff worked per week. (Compare Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 20 with Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 20). Defendants allege that she worked generally Monday through Friday from either 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a half-hour unpaid lunch break or 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a half-hour unpaid lunch break. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 20). They contend that she did not work more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours per week. (Id. ¶ 21). According to defendants, there was a time clock in the factory and the pieceworkers and hourly workers would record the time that they worked each day by punching their own time cards when they arrived at the beginning of the shift and punching out their own time cards at the end of each shift. (Id. ¶¶ 27, 32). The time cards were stored in a fixture on the wall and on Monday mornings, new time cards were placed there and then collected at the end of the week. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 31). Defendants claim that next to the fixture where the time cards were kept, there were posters explaining the employees' FLSA and NYLL rights in English. (Id. ¶ 29). Defendants also contend that plaintiff did not work when the factory was closed and that the factory did not operate on Saturdays or Sundays except for a few occasions except when a weekday shift was rescheduled because of a holiday. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 23).

Plaintiff disputes defendants' contention that she never worked more than 40 hours a week. Instead, she claims that she would arrive at 7:00 a.m., Monday through Friday, to begin her shift, and she would work until 5:30 p.m. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 20(a), 21(b)). She claims that if she clocked in at 7:00 a.m., she would be required to clock out, or a foreman would stamp her timecard, at 3:30 p.m. even though she would continue to work until 5:30 p.m. (Id. ¶¶ 20(a), 32(a)). On some days, if the foreman had not done so, she would be directed to clock in at 9:00 a.m., instead of 7:00 a.m., and then she would clock out at 5:30 p.m. when the factory was closing. (Id.) Plaintiff claims that she was told by defendants that she could only punch 40 hours on the time cards even though she worked an extra 2 hours per day Monday through Friday. (Id. ¶¶ 20(a), 21(a)). Plaintiff notes that her wage statements never included the extra two hours per day that she worked, nor did they include the half hour or so that she spent on maintenance or clean-up work. (Id. ¶ 20(a)).

Plaintiff also alleges that 90% of the time, she worked Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and that other workers were present at the factory. (Id. ¶¶ 21(b), 22(a)). She disputes defendants' assertion that the factory was not generally open on Saturdays, except for a holiday observance, but she concedes that the factory was rarely open on Sundays. (Id.) Plaintiff concedes that the time clock was used to record some of the time she worked, but she denies that the employees were permitted to record all of their time worked on the time clock. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 27; Pest Decl.5 ¶¶ 28, 40). She also concedes that the time cards were stored on the wall but claims that the foreman confiscated them on Friday afternoon so that they were inaccessible until Monday morning. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 28). As a consequence, the time cards were unavailable on Saturdays. (Id. ¶ 32(b)). Plaintiff argues that this supports her claim that she was not allowed to record more than eight hours a day and that the foreman would clock her out after she had worked the eight hours. (Id. ¶ 32(a)).

With respect to plaintiff's claim that she worked Saturdays, defendants contend that although plaintiff would occasionally visit the factory on Saturdays when Bridal Works' bookkeeper, Edyta Makowska, would go in to do administrative work, plaintiff did not do any work for defendants at that time. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmnt ¶¶ 24, 26). Defendants also admit that there were times when other employees, such as Robert Gremplewski, a manager, would go to the factory while his son attended school nearby. (Id. ¶ 25). Plaintiff contends that Gremplewski testified that he was actually at the company's premises on more than 100 Saturdays during his time there. (Pl.'s 56.1 Stmnt ¶ 25(a)). Moreover, plaintiff claims that she worked 6 days a week at the factory beginning in 1995 and that she has a photo with a timestamp from Saturday, April 22, 1995 that shows she was there. (Id. ¶ 26(a); Pest Decl., Ex. 1). She claims that she worked approximately 90% of the Saturdays during the year and names other employees who were there as well, including Beata Nowak, Bozena...

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