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Hair Cuttery Stiffed Workers in Virus Closures: Suit (Corrected)

April 8, 2020, 3:42 PMUpdated: April 10, 2020, 4:16 PM

A Hair Cuttery stylist in New Jersey sued the salon chain’s owner for withholding pay from at least 100 employees after shuttering locations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ratner Cos.’ top executives told Hair Cuttery employees that they wouldn’t receive any wages for the hours they worked between March 15 and March 21, when it suspended all salon operations, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Nicole Olsen brought minimum wage claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey law against Ratner, which owns multiple haircare brands, including Hair Cuttery, BUBBLES Salon, and Cibu. The company currently employs more than 10,000 hair stylists across nearly 1,000 salons in 16 states.

Olsen says that she worked several days between March 15 and March 21, but that after the salons closed, she and other employees received “conflicting information” about their wages. Normally, employees receive the minimum wage or a percentage of the revenue they generate for the salon during their shifts.

Ratner initially told employees that they’d get paid for that week and could then use paid leave to “make up” for days the stores were closed, Olsen says. But later, Ratner backtracked and told employees that using their paid leave was no longer an option.

On April 3, Ratner executives told employees that they wouldn’t get paid for the week of March 15, and that they wouldn’t receive any wages owed until federal funding kicked in or the salons reopened, Olsen says. On April 7, the designated payday, employees didn’t receive the wages due.

Cause of Action: Fair Labor Standards Act; New Jersey Wage Payment Act.

Relief: Collective and class certification; actual and liquidated damages; pre- and post-judgment interest; attorneys’ fees and costs; statutory penalties.

Potential Class Size: The FLSA collective “far exceeds 100" members and the New Jersey class size “is not readily known.”

Response: Ratner didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Malamut & Associates LLC represents the proposed collective and class.

The case is Olsen v. Ratner Cos., D.N.J., No. 20-cv-03760, 4/7/20.

(Corrects third paragraph of April 8 story to reflect accurate spelling of company's haircare brand.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Dailey at kdailey@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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