Misclassified Workers Settle Class Action Lawsuit, Recovering $540,000

In Juan Almendras, et al v. Atelier Meriguet-Carrere, et al, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, together with The Legal Aid Society’s Employment Law Unit, represent former and current painters of the high end residential decorating and painting companies, Atelier Premiere, Inc. and Atelier Mériguet-Carrère.

On February 4, 2015, the Honorable Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York granted class certification and final approval of a collective/class action settlement which resolved the painters’ claims that the companies misclassified them as independent contractors and failed to pay overtime compensation as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”), illegally deducted from their pay money for general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance in violation of the NYLL, and failed to provide annual wage statements and correct pay stubs as required by the NYLL. A payment of close to $400,000 will be divided among the class, which consists of more than 80 workers, most of whom are South American men who primarily speak Spanish and Portuguese. The remaining money will go to attorneys’ fees and service awards.

Staffing in this case from Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel included partner Elizabeth Saylor and associate David Lebowitz. Staffing from The Legal Aid Society included Staff Attorneys Amy Hong and Hollis Pfitsch and Supervising Attorney Karen Cacace.


ECBAWM and Legal Aid File Class Action on Behalf of Painters for the Rich and Famous Who Were Not Paid Overtime

ECBAWM, along with The Legal Aid Society, filed a class-action lawsuit today in the Southern District of New York against two high-end decorative painting companies. The suit alleges that the companies failed to pay their painters hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime and stole thousands more in illegal “deductions” from the workers’ pay. The two companies—Atelier Mériguet-Carrère and Atelier Premiere, Inc. (also known as Premiere Painting)—are two companies that regularly work on the properties of the rich and famous including the homes of celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Valentino Garavani and foreign royalty like the Emir of Qatar—and even the French presidential palace.

Despite these companies’ great success in the realm of high-end painting, they have not shared the wealth with their employees. Instead, they have capitalized on their workers’ position of economic vulnerability to increase their own profits by denying their employees fundamental protections guaranteed by state and federal law. The lawsuit alleges that the named Plaintiffs and their fellow painters were illegally classified as independent contractors, even though any reasonable observer would conclude that they were employees of the companies. The painters’ work was closely supervised by the Defendants, who told them where to work, when to show up, what equipment and techniques to use, what to wear at work, how to behave at job sites, and even what time to break for lunch.

The Plaintiffs are represented by ECBAWM attorneys David Lebowitz and Elizabeth S. Saylor, along with The Legal Aid Society’s Employment Law Project.