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February 03, 2003
Judge Rules in Favor of Deliverymen in Pay Dispute
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>A federal judge in New York has ruled that 200 deliverymen for Duane Reade stores in Manhattan were entitled to receive at least the federal minimum wage because they were employees, not independent contractors, the New York Times reports.
Duane Reade paid $50 to $60 per day to two subcontractors, which paid the deliverymen $20 to $30 per day, the Times reports. The workers typically waited at the Duane Reade stores until they were given delivery orders.
Most of the workers are immigrants from West Africa. An attorney for the deliverymen contends Duane Reade and the two subcontractors owe the workers $1 million in back pay, the Times reports.
In his ruling, Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the deliverymen did not meet the definition of independent contractor. Judge Hellerstein found that Duane Reade is a joint employer of the deliverymen and also responsible for paying back wages, the Times reports.
“Duane Reade had the right to ‘outsource’ its requirement for delivery services to an independent contractor,” Judge Hellerstein wrote in his ruling. “But it did not have the right to use the practice as a way to evade its obligation under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
In a written statement, Duane Reade indicated it would appeal the judge’s ruling.
The Times notes that the deliverymen are among the lowest paid workers in the city. In 2000, deliverymen reached a $3-million settlement with Food Emporium, according to the Times.