NEW YORK — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently upheld a U.S. District Court ruling denying the plaintiff a “double award” under both the New York Labor Law and federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The ruling in Chowdury v. Hamza Express Food Corp. et al. may finally bring an end to years of debate and litigation over whether or not New York workers can recover certain damages under both state and federal laws and could set a precedent for plaintiffs in other states.
The plaintiff sought two separate awards for liquidated damages, both under New York and federal wage laws. In unpaid overtime lawsuits, federal courts may disperse liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid wages, as well as compensate attorneys for their work and court costs associated with litigating the claim.
Some state overtime pay laws, like those in New York, also allow courts to award wage theft plaintiffs liquidated damages as compensation for their damages. However, what is not always clear is whether those same state laws allow plaintiffs to recover liquidated damages under both state and federal wage laws.
However, the federal District Court judge overseeing this case only awarded the plaintiff $21,498.75 in liquidated damages, an amount equal to his unpaid overtime wages, noting a stacked recovery would not be possible under the New York Labor Law. Because the statute failed to explicitly state a double recovery was possible, the court ruled no such award could be handed down.
It is important to note that this ruling only affects workers in New York State but that it could also set a strong precedent on how other District and Appeals Courts will interpret state overtime pay laws with no mention of stacked awards. In cases where only one award is possible, plaintiffs need an experienced unpaid overtime lawyer to help them decide whether to file under state or federal wage laws in order to maximize the compensation for the harm suffered.
Overtime lawsuit attorneys
Call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe that your wage rights are being violated under the FLSA. Our top-rated team of unpaid wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action to help you seek justice.
Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.