()

District Judge William Pauley

Read Full-Text Decision

Plaintiffs were waiters, delivery workers, and cashiers at Szechuan Palace, a Manhattan restaurant owned by A Taste of Mao Inc. (Taste). An investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL) between 2013 and 2015 found 19 employees, including four of the five instant plaintiffs, entitled to $38,883.80 in back wages. Taste paid DOL $48,641.21 in settlement (DOL Settlement). Five former Taste employees, one of whom was not covered by the settlement, brought suit in December 2015 seeking damages stemming form Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations exceeding the period covered by the DOL Settlement. The court denied Taste summary judgment dismissing suit. An employee waives his right to sue once he accepts funds from a DOL supervised settlement. Because the instant plaintiffs did not execute WH-60 forms mailed by the DOL in connection with the DOL Settlement, none of them could be deemed to have accepted the DOL Settlement and to have waived their right to sue. Despite not expressly rejecting the DOL Settlement, plaintiffs’ refusal or failure to sign the WH-60 form was tantamount to a rejection. In 29 USC §216(c), the FLSA clearly contemplates a scenario in which an employee elects to decline a DOL-supervised settlement.