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.