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Beauty Walk, LLC v. Department of Labor and Training

Superior Court of Rhode Island

January 9, 2015

BEAUTY WALK, LLC.
v.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND TRAINING, CHARLES J. FOGARTY, in his official capacity as Director of the Department of Labor and Training, and KRISTEN TAIBL

ATTORNEYS:

For Plaintiff: Thomas J. McAndrew, Esq.

For Defendant: Chip Muller, Esq.

DECISION

PROCACCINI, J.

Beauty Walk, LLC. (Beauty Walk) and its principal, Kathleen Walsh-Dwyer (Ms. Walsh-Dwyer) (collectively Appellants), appeal from a decision of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), finding that Kristen Taibl (Ms. Taibl or Appellee) was entitled to premium pay for the Sundays and holidays as well as overtime that she worked while employed by Beauty Walk. Jurisdiction is pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 28-7-29.

I

Facts[1] and Travel

Ms. Walsh-Dwyer hired Ms. Taibl in September of 2010 to work at Beauty Walk, a boutique beauty care store located in Newport, Rhode Island, as a personal assistant/manager. (DLT Hr'g Tr. at 4.) Ms. Taibl was initially uncertain whether she was being paid as an hourly or salaried employee. Id. at 17. The confusion about Ms. Taibl's employee status was resolved by the first week of October 2010, and from then on she was paid a set salary of $540 per week. Id. at 18, 59.

This arrangement continued until October of 2011 when Ms. Taibl contacted the DLT and received information regarding premium pay, and, specifically, that she qualified for time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays as well as for overtime. Id. at 19. She brought this information to Ms. Walsh-Dwyer's attention several times, and, beginning in November of 2011, Ms. Taibl was paid as an hourly employee and received premium pay for Sundays and holidays for the first time. Id. at 19-20. Subsequently, Ms. Taibl sent a letter to Ms. Walsh-Dwyer on January 25, 2012 indicating that she was owed for the Sundays and holidays she worked during the previous year. (DLT R., Complainant's 3.)

Ms. Taibl's employment at Beauty Walk was terminated by Ms. Walsh-Dwyer on January 26, 2012. (DLT R., Complainant's 4.) At issue in the instant appeal is whether Ms. Taibl was properly exempted from premium pay for overtime, Sundays, and holidays she worked at Beauty Walk between October of 2010 and October of 2011.

Both Ms. Taibl and Ms. Walsh-Dwyer testified at the DLT hearing[2] conducted on November 26, 2012. Ms. Taibl testified about her responsibilities at Beauty Walk. She often opened the store by herself, but Ms. Walsh-Dwyer typically left her a note with a list of tasks to complete. (DLT Hr'g Tr. at 5.) Ms. Taibl would rearrange displays with some discretion, but Ms. Walsh-Dwyer would tell her where to place the product lines. Id. at 6. Ms. Taibl also testified as to her interactions with customers, which included assisting customers and making suggestive sales. Id. at 7. She worked with Beauty Walk's website and would pull items from the store's stock to prepare for shipping. Id. at 8. Ms. Taibl also testified as to closing the store, which included tallying sales totals and cleaning. Id. at 9-10.

Ms. Taibl further testified that she did not manage, hire, or fire any employees while working at Beauty Walk. Id. Nor was she involved in deciding what products were to be ordered for Beauty Walk. Id. She did testify that she was involved in sending out marketing/advertising emails, but she only sent such communications at the direction of Ms. Walsh-Dwyer approximately twice a month. Id. at 11-12. Ms. Taibl was never involved in any bookkeeping or financial matters for Beauty Walk. Id. at 12. She also testified that she did not submit time records to Ms. Dwyer-Walsh, nor was she ever asked to track her hours. Id. at 18. Furthermore, Ms. Taibl testified that while she was able to give discounts, she was not allowed to take returns without Ms. Walsh-Dwyer's permission. (DLT Notes from Hr'g at 11.)

During January 2011, Beauty Walk moved to a new location in Newport, Rhode Island. (DLT Hr'g Tr. at 27.) The store was closed during the move, but Ms. Taibl testified she continued to work for Beauty Walk during this time. Id. She began regularly-scheduled work at the new location on March 13, 2011. Id. at 32.

Ms. Taibl testified that she worked at Beauty Walk for fifty-two Sundays—for a total of 380 hours—from October 2010 to October 2011.[3] Id. at 21-25; DLT R., Complainant's 5. She further testified that she worked on ten holidays—for a total of 77 hours—between October 2010 and October 2011.[4] Id. at 25-26; DLT R., Complainant's 5. Ms. Taibl also testified that she worked more than forty hours per week twice—for a total of 24 hours of overtime.[5]

Ms. Taibl testified that Ms. Walsh-Dwyer contributed $1000 toward her health insurance. (DLT Hr'g Tr. at 35-36.) This offer, Ms. Taibl claims, was made in January of 2011 prior to the store's location change, and Ms. Walsh-Dwyer began to pay the sum in February 2011. Id. at 36-38. Ms. Taibl also testified as to her claim for vacation pay. She stated that she received two weeks, or what she believed to be fourteen days, of vacation but only used eleven of those paid vacation days. Id. at 33-34.

On cross-examination, Ms. Taibl testified about her previous jobs where she was an hourly employee and received neither paid vacation nor any contributions toward her healthcare. Id. at 46-53. She stated that she left her previous job to work at Beauty Walk because she was looking for a "higher position." Id. at 52. Ms. Taibl testified about the contract Ms. Walsh-Dwyer gave her, a document labeled, "A-G-R-E-E-M-E-N-T." Id. at 54-55; DLT R., Respondent's 1. While neither party signed this document, Ms. Taibl did acknowledge that she never objected to the terms contained therein. (DLT Hr'g Tr. at 55.) It was also confirmed on ...


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