In April 2012, the Department of Labor sued a business in New York City for failing to pay workers overtime. The business was a nail salon, Cindy’s Total Care, Inc. on Manhattan’s Upper West Side who fought back against the lawsuit. What was their explanation? Cindy’s Total Care, Inc. claimed their employees were illegal aliens and therefore, not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and were exempt from overtime pay.

The New York City’s Department of Labor launched in investigation and found that the salon’s employees were required to work over 40 hours a week without overtime at a set rate for each day (a day rate), no matter how many hours worked. Employees sometimes worked six 10-hour days a week. Another requirement under the FLSA is that all employers must keep records of employees’ pay and hours, which the salon also failed to do.

Under the federal overtime pay laws (FLSA), it doesn’t matter whether or not you are an illegal alien, everyone is protected and citizenship is irrelevant. If this were not part of the law, ethical companies would be at a disadvantage to their unethical competitors who hire illegal immigrants without having to pay them a fair salary. The employees won the lawsuit by a landslide and the nail salon was forced to pay their employees $117,960 in overtime pay, another $117,960 in liquidated damages and $8,389 dollars in trial costs. Cindy’s Total Care ended up paying $244,309 to their employees.

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.