Injunctive relief is infrequently sought in wage-and-hour litigation, which typically focuses on whether an employer properly paid wages for time periods which already transpired, as well as for any period after the filing of an action where the challenged practice means unchanged. However, injunctive relief can be available in FLSA cases. In a prime example, a Manhattan court recently issued an injunction enjoining defendant, a realty company from evicting or otherwise retaliating against a live-in superintendent who had commenced an action for unpaid wages. Franco v 172 E. Holdings LLC, 2013 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 410 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Jan. 29, 2013).
In analyzing the propriety of granting the application for injunctive relief and deciding in favor of the employee, the court ruled that the balance of the equities favored the injunction, observing that the “grave and irreparable injury that results when someone is evicted is undeniable.” The Court rejected Defendant’s argument that the Plaintiff was not performing his job as superintendent (meaning a non-retaliatory basis for his termination existed) and the termination was necessary to the proper function of the building, opining that “nothing in this decision precludes Defendants from hiring another employee to perform the work that they allege Plaintiff is failing to do.”
While typical wage lawsuits do not implicate provisional remedies such as the injunction issued in Franco, employers and their counsel must be aware of this tactic and conduct themselves accordingly, especially when handling personnel issues involving current employees who are asserting claims against the company.