You're viewing Docket Item 1 from the case Threet et al v. Venas, LLC et al. View the full docket and case details.

Download this document:




Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 1 of 9

IN THE U.S. DISTRICT COURT OF MARYLAND

FOR DISTRICT OF MARYLAND



*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*





































Elizabeth S. Threet

6303 Josephine Road
Waldorf, Maryland 20601

Brenda Lee Carpenter
7 Glymount Road
Indian Head, Maryland 20640

Georgia McCoy
5930 Port Tobacco Road
Indian Head, Maryland 20640

Gerald Goodwin, Jr.
1010 Lipscomb Street
Richmond, VA 23224

Andrea Shiell

1010 Lipscomb Street
Richmond, VA 23224



v.

Venas, LLC
(t/a “IHOP”)
9807 Larson Place
Waldorf, Maryland 20603



Samson Okasagah
15 D Leatherwood Place

Baltimore, Maryland 21237



Sabina Shrestha

9807 Larson Place

Waldorf, Maryland 20603




____________________________________/



Together, “Plaintiffs”






















Together, “Defendants”











































*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*


Case No. ____________



JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

























Page 1 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 2 of 9













COMPLAINT



Plaintiffs, Elizabeth Threet, Brenda Lee Carpenter, Georgia McCoy, Gerald Goodwin,

Jr., and Andrea Shiell, through undersigned counsel, state a complaint against Defendants Venas,

LLC (t/a “IHOP”), Samswon Okasagh, and Sabina Shrestha, pursuant to the Fair Labor

Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et seq. (“FLSA”), and a supplemental state law claim against

under Maryland’s Wage and Hour Law, Md. Ann. Code LE art. 3-401 et seq (“MWHL”), and

demand a jury trial, as follows:

Introduction, Jurisdiction and Venue

1.

This Court has original jurisdiction of the FLSA action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b)

and 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

2.

This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over the Maryland Wage and Hour Law claims

pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) because said claims are so related to the FLSA claims that they

form part of the same case or controversy.

3.

Venue and personal jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) and (c)

because the events and omissions giving rise to these claims occurred within this judicial district,

and all Defendants regularly conduct business in this judicial district.

4.

Plaintiffs Elizabeth Threet (“Threet”), Brenda Lee Carpenter (“Carpenter”), Georgia

McCoy (“McCoy”), and Gerald Goodwin, Jr. (“Goodwin”), and Andrea Shiell (“Shiell”),

worked at Defendants’ “IHOP” franchise in La Plata, Maryland (the “La Plata IHOP”).

Defendants Venas, LLC is a Maryland limited liability corporation. By failing to pay the

Plaintiffs the minimum wage and overtime wages that were due, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants

willfully violated very clear and well-established minimum wage and overtime provisions of the

FLSA. Similarly, the Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated the minimum wage



Page 2 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 3 of 9

provisions of the MWHL. In addition to actual sums owed, Plaintiffs seek liquidated (statutory)

damages pursuant to the FLSA, pre-judgment interest on all amounts owed under the MWHL,

and attorneys’ fees and costs as provided under the FLSA and the MWHL.

5.

Defendants Venas, LLC is a corporate entity doing business as “IHOP” in La Plata,

Maryland. Upon further information and belief, Defendant Venas, LLC is owned and operated

by Defendants Samson Okasagah and Sabrina Shrestha.

6.

At all times material herein, Venas, LLC had an annual gross volume of sales made or

business done in an amount exceeding $500,000.00.

7.

Defendants Samson Okasagah (“Okasagah”) and Sabrina Shrestha (“Shrestha”), upon

information and belief, are officers and members of the Defendant Venas, LLC. Defendants

Okasagah and Shrestha supervise the administration of the La Plata IHOP, and maintain either

direct or indirect control over the scheduling of employees for work. Upon information and

belief, they receive income and/or salary from Defendant Venas, LLC. Defendants Okasagah

and Shrestha have actively engaged in the management and direction of employees, including the

Plaintiffs, and have possessed and exercised authority and discretion to fix, adjust, and determine

hours worked with respect to employees at the La Plata IHOP, including the Plaintiffs. Upon

information and belief, Defendants Okasagah and Shrestha have custody and control of business

records and are responsible for maintaining those records. At all times material herein,

Defendants Okasagah and Shrestha have been employers within the meaning of the FLSA, 29

U.S.C. § 203(d), and the MWHL, Md. Ann. Code, LE art. 3-401(b), and thus, Defendants

Defendants Okasagah and Shrestha are jointly and individually liable under for damages to the

Plaintiffs arising under the FLSA, and the MWHL.

8.

Defendant Venas, LLC employs at least two or more employees who are engaged in



Page 3 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 4 of 9

commerce, produce goods for commerce, or handle, sell, or otherwise work on goods or

materials that have moved in or were produced for commerce as a single enterprise under the

FLSA. For instance, there are employees of the Defendant who negotiate and purchase food

from producers and suppliers who operate in interstate commerce. There are employees who

cook, serve, and otherwise handle this food, as well as the beverages, that cross interstate and

even international boundaries. For example, two or more employees handle, make, and sell such

customer favorites as the “Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity,”® the “CINN-A-STACK”®, the

“Harvest Grain ‘N Nut”®, using flour, eggs, butter, sugar, spices, and fruit/nuts that have moved

in interstate commerce. There are employees who regularly use wire and electronic means of

communicating interstate, including the Plaintiffs and other servers, who also regularly sell food

and beverages that has moved in interstate commerce, and who regularly process credit card

transactions for customer payments. There are employees who use, in the Defendant’s

restaurant, cleaning products, dishes, tools, utensils, napkins, menus, signage, among other items,

that have moved in interstate commerce. Accordingly, subject matter jurisdiction exists because

the Plaintiffs, and others similarly situated, are employed by Defendant Venas, LLC, a covered

entity, which satisfies the enterprise coverage provisions under the FLSA. Defendant also

satisfies the coverage provisions of the MWHL, insofar as it grosses at least $250,000.00/year.

As a covered enterprise, Defendant has at all material times been an “employer” within the

meaning of the FLSA and MWHL.

General Allegations

9.

Plaintiffs were employed by Defendants on various dates and in various workweeks

during the three year period prior to filing this Complaint. During the past three years, the

Plaintiffs were employed Defendants as servers at the La Plata IHOP. As servers, Plaintiffs took



Page 4 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 5 of 9

food/beverage orders from guests and served food/beverages to guests.

10.

Plaintiffs were not exempt under the FLSA’s minimum wage or overtime compensation

requirements, and were not exempt from the MWHL’s minimum wage requirements.

11.

Defendants have violated rights of the Plaintiffs to be paid the full minimum wage.

While the FLSA allows employers to pay less than minimum wage to employees who receive

tips, 29 U.S.C. § 203(m), the employer must still pay at least $2.13/hour under the FLSA and

$3.63/hour under the MWHL, and must allow the tipped employees to retain all tips (except in a

valid tip pooling arrangement, which is not at issue in this case).

12.

Defendants were required by the FLSA and the MWHL (29 U.S.C. § 203(m) and Md.

Ann Code LE art. § 3-419 (respectively)), to inform tipped employees, like the Plaintiffs, that

among other things, the tipped employees were entitled to retain all of their tips except in a valid

tip pooling arrangement, before they could potentially pay $3.63 an hour to the Plaintiffs, an

hourly wage which is lower than the requirements of 29 U.S.C. § 206, and half of the minimum

wage as set forth in Md. Ann. Code LE art. § 3-413.

13.

Defendants violated the 29 U.S.C. § 203(m) by failing to inform Plaintiffs that they were

taking a so-called “tip credit” against Defendants’ minimum wage obligations, and further

violated the FLSA by maintaining a policy that resulted in confiscation of gratuities by the

employer to cover business losses such as customer walk-outs. Defendants also violated the

MWHL by failing to notify Plaintiffs, and others similarly situated, as to the tip credit provisions

of MWHL, Md. Ann Code LE art. § 3-419(a)(1)(ii). As a result, Defendants owe the Plaintiff

$7.25/hour, less the $3.63/hour that they allegedly paid them.

14.

Additionally, Defendants violated the FLSA and the MWHL by failing to pay Plaintiffs

for all of the hours which they actually worked. Defendants engaged in systemic wage theft by



Page 5 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 6 of 9

regularly cutting the number of hours worked by Plaintiffs in processing the payroll, including

but not limited to, deducting time for unpaid lunch and rest-breaks that Plaintiffs were regularly

required, suffered and/or permitted to work.

15.

In addition, Plaintiffs Threet and Carpenter regularly worked more than 40 hours in a

statutory workweek. (Plaintiffs McCoy, Goodwin and Sheill generally did not work a full-time

schedule or more than forty (40) hours per week.) However, for this work, Plaintiffs Threet and

Carpenter were not paid overtime compensation. Under the FLSA, the Plaintiffs Threet and

Carpenter should have received at least $10.88/hour for all overtime hours worked in a 40 hour

statutory workweek (or, alternatively, if Defendants are determined to be in compliance with the

requirements of 29 U.S.C. § 203(m), which Plaintiffs alleges that they are not, the Defendants

would have been required to pay Plaintiffs, no less than $7.26/hour under the FLSA for all

overtime hours worked in a 40 hour statutory workweek).

COUNT I

(FLSA - Failure to Pay Minimum Wage)



16.

Plaintiffs incorporate paragraphs 1-15 as set forth above, and state that Defendants’

actions complained of herein constitute a willful violation of 29 U.S.C. § 206 (minimum wage),

because Defendants have at all material times failed to pay Plaintiffs the proper minimum wage

rate, free and clear and in a timely manner, and otherwise failed to comply with the requirements

of 29 U.S.C. § 203(m).

17.

As a result, Plaintiffs have the legal right to receive the full minimum wage, as required

by Federal law and applicable Federal regulations.







Page 6 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 7 of 9

COUNT II

(FLSA - Failure to Properly Pay Overtime)


18.

Plaintiffs incorporate paragraphs 1-17 as set forth above, and state, in addition, that

Defendants’ actions complained of herein constitute a violation of Section 207 of the FLSA,

because Defendants willfully failed to pay Plaintiffs Threet and Carpenter an overtime wage of at

least 1 ½ times the applicable minimum wage of $7.25/hour, for certain statutory work weeks,

and as a result, Plaintiffs Threet and Carpenter have failed to receive overtime pay, as required

by Section 207 of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 207.

COUNT III

(FLSA - Failure to Properly Pay Overtime)

(Alternative Count –

Overtime Owed Even If In Compliance With Tip Credit Provisions)


19.

Plaintiffs incorporate paragraphs 1-18 as set forth above, and alternatively plead and state

that even if Defendants’ actions were in compliance with the tip credit provisions of the FLSA,

Defendants’ actions complained of herein constitute a willful violation of Section 7(a)(1) of the

FLSA, because Defendants failed to compensate Plaintiff Threet and Carpenter at a proper

overtime rate after application of the so-called tip credit, for hours in excess of forty hours in a

work week at a rate of not less than one and one-half (1 ½) times the regular and applicable

minimum wage (currently $7.25 an hour), as required by Federal law and applicable Federal

regulations. Defendants were required, but failed, to pay Plaintiffs Threet and Carpenter at least

$6.91 an hour, for every overtime hour that they worked.







Page 7 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 8 of 9

(Maryland Wage/Hour Law - Failure to Pay Minimum Wage)

COUNT IV



20.

Plaintiffs incorporate paragraphs 1-19 as set forth above, and state that Defendants’

actions complained of herein constitute a violation of Md. Ann. Code LE art. § 3-413 (minimum

wage), because Defendants have at all material times failed to pay Plaintiffs, a proper minimum

wage rate, free and clear and in a timely manner, and otherwise failed to comply with the

requirements of Md. Ann. Code LE art. § 3-419.

21.

As a result, Plaintiffs have the legal right to receive the full minimum wage, as required

by Maryland law and applicable Maryland regulations.

Prayer



Based on the foregoing allegations, Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court grant

money damages in an amount to be determined by the evidence, exclusive of attorney’s fees and

costs; and in support thereof, request this Honorable Court to issue the following Orders:

(a) Order Defendants to pay Plaintiffs all unpaid minimum wage payments determined by

the Court to be due and owing to Plaintiffs under the FLSA (and under the Maryland Wage/Hour

law), as well as a sum of liquidated damages in an amount equal to the amount of any unpaid

minimum wage payments and overtime premiums awarded to Plaintiffs;

(b)

Order Defendants to pay Plaintiffs Threet and Carpenter all unpaid overtime premiums

determined by the Court to be due and owing to Plaintiffs under the FLSA, as well as a sum of

liquidated damages in an amount equal to the amount of any unpaid minimum wage payments

and overtime premiums awarded to Plaintiffs;

(c ) Award Plaintiffs’ pre-judgment interest on any sums determined to be due and owing

from Defendants under the Maryland Wage/Hour law; and





Page 8 of 9

Case 8:13-cv-02146-RWT Document 1 Filed 07/24/13 Page 9 of 9

(d)

Grant Plaintiffs any additional relief that the Court deems appropriate and just.

Respectfully submitted,
















jury.











/s/ (with permission)____


Howard B. Hoffman
Federal Bar No. 25965

600 Jefferson Plaza, Ste. 304

Rockville, Maryland 20852
(301) 251-3752




Counsel for Plaintiffs












/s/_Bradford W. Warbasse___
Bradford W. Warbasse
Federal Bar No. 07304
401 Washington Avenue, Ste. 200
Towson, Maryland 21204
(410) 337-5411

Counsel for Plaintiffs




Jury Demand

The Plaintiffs, by their attorneys, hereby demands a jury trial as to all issues triable by a













/s/ Bradford W. Warbasse
Bradford W. Warbasse

Page 9 of 9