Corporate livery drivers who run "black car" services that transport corporate customers in New York City lodged a class action against a group of dispatcher companies Tuesday, claiming they are unlawfully characterized as independent contractors so the dispatchers can deny them overtime pay.
The first named defendant, Executive Transportation Group Inc., houses more than a dozen franchises that provide dispatch software and equipment and set rates for drivers, according to the $5 million suit lodged in Manhattan federal court by Muhammad Anwar.
Going back three years, the companies have willfully denied the drivers wages and overtime by misclassifying them as independent contracts, the suit says, adding that the companies are aware of how the law requires the drivers to be paid.
"Defendants' unlawful conduct has been widespread, repeated and consistent," the complaint said.
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The four-count suit asserts violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as violations of New York Labor Law with respect to overtime pay, failure to keep records and making unlawful deductions.
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The defendant companies are owned by John L. "Chip" Acierno III of Scarsdale, N.Y., the suit says.
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The case is Anwar et al. v. Executive Transportation Group et al, case number 13-cv-2666, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.