By Michelle Graff
Brooklyn, N.Y.--Unique Settings of New York is facing a collective action lawsuit for allegedly failing to pay non-exempt employees overtime and not providing them with accurate wage statements on payday.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Brooklyn on behalf of former Unique employee Patricio Vizuette and “all others similarly situated” against D.C. Group Inc. (d/b/a Unique Settings of New York) and its owner, Ozan Ekmel (Mel) Anda. 

In the suit, Vizuette alleges that while employed at Unique between July 2008 and November 2014, he put in between 45 and 52 1/2 hours every week, starting at 9 a.m. and ending around 6 or 8 each night with a half-hour break for lunch.

Despite the fact that he was putting in nine, 10- or 11-hour days, he claims he was never paid for any hours over 40 “at any rate of pay, let alone at the minimum wage rate of pay, his regular rates of pay, or his overtime rates of pay,” court papers state.

Like all non-exempt workers, Vizuette was entitled to overtime (time and a half) under the New York Labor Law, the New York Compensation Codes Rules and Regulations, and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The lawsuit also alleges that the jewelry manufacturer did not provide employees with proper, accurate wage statements on each payday, as required by the New York Labor Law.

Unique, the lawsuit alleges, “acted in the manner described herein so as to maximize their profits while minimizing their labor costs.”

Scott Ohnegian of Riker Danzig, the attorney representing D.C. Group/Unique in the case, said that Unique intends to “defend itself very vigorously” against the allegations raised in the lawsuit.

He also said that Vizuette was fired from Unique for allegedly stealing gold and might have become “disgruntled” with the company after they tried to block him from collecting unemployment.

Vizuette filed his lawsuit back in July.

In early February, attorneys for both D.C. Group/Unique and Vizuette, who is represented by Borrelli & Associates P.L.L.C., agreed that notice could be distributed to former and current manual laborers for the company, informing them that they might be entitled to join a lawsuit that alleges they did not receive proper overtime compensation. The notice covers employees who worked at Unique as far back as July 29, 2012.

Because it is a federal collective action--not a class action--current and former employees must opt in to become part of the lawsuit. (In class actions, potential plaintiffs must opt out.) 

Vizuette is seeking to recover his full payment of unpaid minimum wages, overtime compensation and liquidated damages.

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