Employment-Second Circuit Rules That Company Chairman, President and CEO Is An “Employer” For FLSA Purposes

In Irizarry v. Catsimatidis, Docket No. 11-4035-cv (2nd Cir. 2013), the question arose as to whether John Catsimatidis, the chairman, president and CEO of Gristede’s Foods, Inc. (“Catsimatidis”), was an “employer” for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (the “FLSA”). If so, he could be held personally liable for damages for violations of the FLSA. The district court granted partial summary judgment for the plaintiffs on the issue, establishing that Catsimatidis was an employer and would be held jointly and severally liable for damages under the FLSA along with the corporate defendants. Catsimatidis appeals.

In analyzing the case, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (the “Court”) said that the determination of whether Catsimatidis is an “employer” for FLSA purposes depends on the economic realities and the totality of the circumstances The Court concluded that Catsimatidis’ actions and responsibilities — particularly as demonstrated by his active exercise of overall control over the company, his ultimate responsibility for the plaintiffs’ (company employees) wages, his supervision of managerial employees, and his actions in individual stores — demonstrate that he was an “employer” for purposes of the FLSA. As such, the Court affirmed the district court’s grant of partial summary judgment in the plaintiffs’ favor.