Workers Claim Sephora's Biweekly Pay Violate NY Law

The makeup giant, Sephora USA Inc., is allegedly violating New York state law by paying retail employees every other week instead of weekly, a proposed class of workers claimed in a suit filed in New York federal court.

In a complaint filed this week, plaintiff Rosalba Espinal claimed that she and other in-store workers qualified as manual laborers under New York state wage laws, so Sephora is required to pay them every week instead of biweekly.

"For half of each biweekly pay period, plaintiff was injured in that she was temporarily deprived of money owed to her, and she could not invest, earn interest on, or otherwise use these monies that were rightfully hers," Espinal said.

Section 191 of the New York Labor Code mandates that employers must pay manual laborers — expressly defined as a "mechanic, workingman or laborer" — on a weekly basis. In practice, the New York State Department of Labor says it defines manual workers as those who spend at least 25% of the workday engaged in "physical labor."

The DOL has not expressly defined the limits of physical labor, a term it says comprises "countless physical tasks."

Espinal, who worked at a Sephora store in Manhattan for roughly a year between 2020 and 2021, says that she and her co-workers spent at least 25% of their days restocking inventory, operating cash registers, walking sales floors and applying makeup to customers.

Espinal claims that those duties qualified as physical labor, which meant that the company's standard biweekly pay policy was legally insufficient.

The standardization of Sephora's pay practices necessitates a class action rather than individual litigation, Espinal says. She calls for the creation of a class of "hundreds, if not thousands" of New York-based employees, dating back six years.

Espinal claims that the company's alleged violation of New York law deprived workers of the right to spend their earned wages according to their own whims and at their own chosen times.

"Every day that said money was not paid to her in a timely fashion, she lost the time value of that money," her complaint said.

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