Zeng Liu v. Donna Karen, Inc.

00 Civ. 4221 (2001)

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Zeng Liu v. Donna Karen, Inc.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
00 Civ. 4221 (2001)

Facts

Garment-factory workers (the workers) (plaintiffs) worked in factories owned by Jen Chu Apparel Inc. and Jen Jen of New York, Inc., which were owned by Calvin and Winnie Chen (collectively, the Chens) (defendants). The workers made clothes in the Chens’ factories for Donna Karan International, Inc. (Donna) (defendant), among other companies. The workers filed a class-action suit against the Chens and Donna for unpaid minimum wages, unpaid overtime, and damages, alleging they worked 80 hours per week receiving less than minimum wage and no overtime. The workers asserted that the Chens and Donna acted as joint employers and thus were jointly responsible for the labor-law violations. The workers alleged that 60 to 100 percent of the garments they produced were for Donna and that Donna’s representatives were in the Chens’ factories daily. The workers also alleged that Donna’s setting of low prices for garments and large output demands dictated the workers’ wages and hours. Donna filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the workers had failed to properly assert that Donna was a joint employer. The parties agreed that the economic reality of the circumstances should govern whether Donna qualified as a joint employer.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Knapp, J.)

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