Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brother Can You Spare a Dime: Court Rejects Chase Bank's Claim that New York Law Does Not Require the Payment of Overtime Compensation

On September 4, 2009, New York District Court Judge, Hon. Roslynn R. Mauskopf, rejected efforts by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase") to disavow the existence of the New York State regulation empowering its hourly paid employees to receive overtime compensation. (Andrade v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80836 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 4, 2009)). Chase’s argument, which sought to set employee rights back 100 years to the era of Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905), asserted that hourly employees in New York could claim overtime compensation under New York State law only if the employee had personally negotiated such a right with financial behemoth Chase by way of contract. The Lochner decision – which invalidated early efforts by the States to regulate sweatshop-like working conditions during the industrial revolution – reduced employee protections solely to the right of contract under a pro-business judicial philosophy that was subsequently abandoned in the post Depression era. In modern times, however, Chase’s claim insisting that New York does not have a mandatory overtime law is an extreme, if not outrageous, proposition. This fact was underscored by Judge Mauskopf, who reasoned that “the cases recognizing the validity of New York's overtime regulation are legion.” See Andrade, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80836, at 5-7, n.1. Thus, the Andrade decision reflects a victory for New York hourly employees who are entitled by law to receive overtime compensation for going the extra mile to generate profits for their corporate employers.

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