Second Circuit Resolves Liquidated Damages Under the FLSA and NYLL

On April 6, 2018, in the case of Rana v. Islam, Case No. 16-CV-3966, the Second Circuit resolved a split in the circuits over whether liquidated damages for unpaid wages are recoverable under both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law (NYLL).   This resolved a split among district courts within the Second Circuit.

In cases filed under the FLSA and NYLL, prevailing employees could receive liquidated damages of 100% of the unpaid wages (see, FLSA § 216(b) and NYLL § 198(1-a)).  Prior to the decision in Rana, some courts would award liquidated damages under both statutes, although the trend was moving towards allowing recovery under only one of the statutes.  The Rana decision resolved any conflict, noting that “[w]hile the wording of the FLSA and NYLL liquidated damages provisions are not identical, there are no meaningful differences.”  In interpreting the FLSA and NYLL, the Court held that “the NYLL and FLSA as not allowing duplicative  liquidated damages for the same course of conduct.”  Notably, the Court left open the question as to what would transpire should a prevailing employee entitled to liquidated under both statutes should receive the larger of the two awards.

The Law Offices of Yale Pollack, P.C. is based on Long Island in Syosset, New York and assists employees and employers in understanding their rights and obligations under various employment laws.