A new class and collective action proposal has been filed by former employees of an Asian grocery store chain in New York federal court. The suit claims that the employees weren’t paid proper overtime rates and didn’t receive pay stubs with essential information such as their rate of pay.
Around a dozen workers filed suit against H Mart on Tuesday, claiming the national grocery chain violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York labor laws when workers at its Bayside, Queens, store clocked over 40 hours a week without any time-and-a-half pay.
"Defendants engaged in their unlawful conduct pursuant to a corporate policy of minimizing labor costs and denying employees compensation by knowingly violating the FLSA and NYLL," the workers said in their complaint.
From March 1, 2020, to April 30, 2021, the employees said, workers received a COVID-19 differential rate from H Mart management at $2 per hour, and they were eligible for "premium pay" at times. But they said their overtime rates did not vary when they were required to work COVID-19 or premium pay shifts, and they were not paid the time-and-a-half rate required by law when they worked above 40 hours.
The employees also said they did not receive accurate pay stubs disclosing their hourly rates or other information, such as deductions from pay, the name of the employee or the name and location of the employer. The pay stubs were also not provided in English and in the employees' primary languages, as required by law, they said.
"These practices by defendants were done willfully to disguise the actual number of hours plaintiffs worked and to avoid paying plaintiffs properly for their full hours worked," the workers said in the complaint.
The workers said they also did not receive an additional hour of pay when they worked more than 10 hours a day at the store, as required by law. They also said they were not afforded a uniform maintenance allowance, nor did the store offer to launder the required uniforms for free, as required by state law.
The employees said these were common policies across the chain and asked the court to certify the class and collective action. They said that all workers who were employed by H Mart in the last three years should be included in the collective and that all workers who were employed by H Mart in New York state for the last six years should be included in the class.
The group is seeking damages, pay for unpaid overtime, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, attorney fees and other legal costs.