In a summary order issued on December 7, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit–in Chowdhury v. Hamza Express Food Corp., No. 15‐3142‐cv–held that an award of liquidated damages under both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law with respect to the same violation was improper:
[The Labor Law] does not call for an award of New York liquidated damages over and above a like award of FLSA liquidated damages…. Had the New York State legislature intended to provide a cumulative liquidated damages award under the NYLL, we think it would have done so explicitly in view of the fact that double recovery is generally disfavored where another source of damages already remedies the same injury for the same purpose….[W]hatever reasons existed to award liquidated damages under the relevant provisions of both the FLSA and the NYLL before 2010, we read the subsequent amendments to the NYLL provision, which brought it into substantial conformity with the FLSA provision, as having eliminated those reasons. Today the NYLL and FLSA liquidated damages provisions are identical in all material respects, serve the same functions, and redress the same injuries. In the absence of any indication otherwise, we interpret the New York statute’s provision for liquidated damages as satisfied by a similar award of liquidated damages under the federal statute.
The decision is a welcome one for employers facing federal and state wage and hour claims in district court.