Employer Required to Post Notices in Punjabi and Hindi.
The need for legal translation services from English to Punjabi and for Punjabi deposition interpreters for in-person depositions and for Punjabi legal interpreters for Zoom depositions often comes up in civil litigation.
In Rosa v. Dhillon, the plaintiffs filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York against their former employers for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law (“NYLL”). The plaintiffs, who worked as gas station attendants at the defendant’s gas station in Yonkers, New York, alleged that the defendants/plaintiffs’ employers failed to pay them minimum wage and overtime. The plaintiffs also moved for conditional certification of a collective action and a court-facilitated notice under the FLSA. The defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint. The court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss in part but allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with a collective action. The court also issued several specific orders regarding legal document translation and certified document translation issues.
Defendants Move to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ FLSA Case.
In response to Punjabi-speaking plaintiffs’ suit, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint. In their motion to dismiss, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ suit was without merit because the plaintiffs had claimed that they were paid between $8 and $12 per hour and the federal minimum wage was $7.25 per hour. Thus, the defendants argued, plaintiffs did not have a viable claim under the FLSA, even if they made less than the New York minimum wage, because they were paid more than the federal minimum wage.
The court agreed, finding that courts around the country have concluded that “for non-overtime wages, the FLSA requires only that employers pay the minimum wage rates set by federal law.” Accordingly, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims for failure to pay minimum wage.
However, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to proceed with a collective action in part. In their motion, the plaintiffs alleged that they had never received overtime pay (despite working more than 40 hours per week) and instead only received a flat rate of pay. The plaintiffs proposed a collective action consisting of “all current and former gas station attendants at any of the [d]efendants’ gas stations located in the State of New York…”
In granting the plaintiffs’ motion, the court found that the plaintiffs had submitted sufficient evidence to meet their burden of establishing that they were similarly situated to other attendants at the defendants’ gas station. However, the court declined to apply the collective action to the other gas stations the defendants owned and operated on the grounds that it could not infer a uniform policy or plan without knowing how many other gas stations were involved in the allegedly unlawful acts.
Court Orders Notices to be Posted in English, Punjabi and Hindi.
In allowing the plaintiffs to proceed with an FLSA collective action that included all attendants who worked at the subject gas station, the court made a number of related rulings. First, the court held that the notice period would cover attendants employed at the defendant’s gas station within three years of the court’s order.
Second, the court granted the plaintiffs’ request for a court order requiring the defendants to post notices and consent to join forms in English, Punjabi and Hindi, in a conspicuous place at all of the defendants’ gas stations. The court held that, “in this circuit, courts routinely approve requests to post notice on employee bulletin boards and in other common areas, even where potential members will also be notified by mail, because it maximizes potential plaintiffs’ opportunities to be informed of the pendency of the litigation and consider whether to opt in.”
Accordingly, the court ordered the defendants to post English, Punjabi, and Hindi versions of the notice and consent forms in a conspicuous location at the defendant’s gas station.
Court Allows Certified Translations of Legal Notices.
In addition to requiring notices to be posted in English, Punjabi, and Hindi, the court also granted the plaintiffs’ request for permission to send certified English to Punjabi translations of both the original letter regarding the collective action as well as the reminder notice to potential opt-in plaintiffs.
The case is Rosa. v. Dhillon, et al., Case No 20-cv-3672, decided on December 13, 2020 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
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