The following is a background of the CPC Workers’ story:
November 10, 2006 – NYS Department of Labor (DOL) rejects Chinese-American Planning Council’s (CPC ‘s) application for the overtime exemption.
March 11, 2010 – DOL issues an Opinion Letter which interprets the NYSDOL Wage Order:
“…live-in employees must be paid not less than for thirteen hours per twenty-four hour period provided they are afforded at least eight hours for sleep and actually receive five hours of uninterrupted sleep…the eight-hour sleep period exclusion is not applicable and the employees must be paid for all eight hours.”
Around 2013 – A group of home attendants file a complaint with the DOL
June 2014 – CPC enters into a collective bargaining agreement with 1199 SEIU (the Union)
November 2014 – DOL makes a finding that CPC workers are owed overtime, and issues checks to home attendants totaling more than $2 million. However, DOL does not address the 24-hour shift (live-in or sleep-in) employees’ claim. Many home attendants who worked 24-hour shifts, 4 or 5 days a week receive nothing from DOL.
November 2014 – Lai Yee Chan receives a check of around $200 from DOL. She asks CPC’s accounting office about the check, and she is informed the check was issued for the overtime hours she worked from 2007 to 2013, which amount to approximately 6,000 hours.
December 2014 – Lai Yee Chan talks to other home attendants. Many workers complain to the Union and DOL about their owed back pay and overtime. The Union tells them that CPC is not required to pay overtime because they are a non-profit organization. The Union doesn’t file a complaint against CPC on behalf of the complainants.
March 11, 2015 – Lai Yee Chan and 2 other home attendants who worked 24 hours shift to file a class action lawsuit against CPC for failure to pay them under the NYLL (1) minimum wages, (2) overtime wages, (3) spread-of-hours wages, (4) straight time wages, among other claims.
May 2015 – CPC makes an application to the court to dismiss the class action on the basis that:
- CPC has a contract with SEIU, and this matter should be arbitrated
- CPC home attendants should be treated as domestic workers
September 9, 2015 – New York State Supreme Court Judge issues an order denying CPC’s request to dismiss the case on the basis that:
- The arbitration clause is not specific enough about the wage claim to prevent workers from seeking relief through the court
- Even though home attendants are domestic workers, they are entitled to received overtime and the hours they work at night
October 2015 – Federal Court issues a finding that home attendants are entitled to overtime pay based on the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law.
November 2015 – The home attendant plaintiffs amend the class action complaint to include federal overtime claims. Defendant CPC uses this to move the case to Federal Court.
December 7, 2015 – CPC and the Union enter into a 2015 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to amend the collective bargaining agreement to include a mandatory arbitration clause and cuts the wages of home attendants who work a 24-hour shift.
December 8, 2015 – CPC requests an arbitrator to exercise jurisdiction over all of Plaintiffs’ claims in the federal lawsuit.
December 11, 2015 – The Union responds that the MOA is not retroactive, therefore the arbitrator has no jurisdiction over the claims.
December 15, 2015 – CPC asks the court to stay the federal class action case and to compel arbitration based on the December 2015 MOA. CPC argues the collective bargaining agreement has a mandatory arbitration clause and CPC claims it is retroactive to June 2014, and any complaint concerning wage theft must go to arbitration.
December 28, 2015 – Lai Yee Chan files a charge with the NLRB against CPC and the Union, stating that:
- By entering the collective bargaining agreement, which contained a mandatory arbitration clause that requires employees to waive their Section 7 rights, the employer and the Union are preventing the employees from engaging in collective action or class action to challenge the employer’s policy.
- The employer and the Union are retaliating against the employees who filed the class lawsuit by seeking a mid-contract alteration of the collective bargaining agreement, which has as its intent and impact the termination of a pending class/collective action lawsuit.
January 15, 2016 – Plaintiffs file their memorandum of law in opposition to defendant’s motion to compel arbitration by saying that the MOA has not been ratified by the Union membership.
January 21, 2016 – The Union holds a ratification meeting and omits or gives incorrect information to the members. The Union representatives tell Chinese speaking workers different things than they tell the English and Spanish speaking workers.
February 3, 2016 – The federal court judge stays the workers case based on the mandatory arbitration clause being retroactive to June 2014, even though she knew there was a disagreement between CPC and the Union on the effective date of the MOA signed on December 2015.
February 17, 2016 – The plaintiffs file a motion asking the judge to reconsider her decision.
April 8, 2016 – The federal court judge rules to let the arbitrator decide whether this should be trial by court or arbitration.
May 2016 – Former home attendants file a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against CPC for wage and hour violations.