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Beauty Walk, LLC v. Department of Labor and Training

Superior Court of Rhode Island

January 12, 2017

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

          For Plaintiff: Thomas J. McAndrew, Esq.; Kevin F. Bowen, Esq.

          For Defendant: Sean Fontes, Esq.; Chip Muller, Esq.; Nancy Siegel Sheinberg, Esq.; Ali Khorsand, Esq.

          DECISION

          PROCACCINI, J.

         Before this Court is Kristen Taibl's (Ms. Taibl) motion for attorneys' fees and interest. Ms. Taibl seeks attorneys' fees and interest in connection with her complaint before the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) against her former employer, Beauty Walk, LLC (Beauty Walk). Following an adverse decision by the DLT, Beauty Walk appealed to this Court under the Administrative Procedures Act. After reviewing the entirety of the record of the DLT proceeding, this Court affirmed the decision of the DLT, finding that Ms. Taibl was entitled to premium pay for the Sundays, holidays, and overtime that she worked while employed by Beauty Walk. Presently—over a year and a half after this Court rendered its decision affirming the DLT's decision—Ms. Taibl has filed a motion in this Court seeking attorneys' fees and interest associated with her claim against Beauty Walk.

         I

         Facts and Travel

         This is the second time the parties have come before this Court in this matter. A thorough recitation of the facts and travel relevant to this litigation were provided in Beauty Walk, LLC v. Dep't of Labor and Training, No. PC-13-0809, 2015 WL 412873 (R.I. Super. Ct. Jan. 9, 2015). However, for purposes of clarity, the Court will provide a brief summarization.

         Kathleen Walsh-Dwyer (Ms. Walsh-Dwyer) hired Ms. Taibl in September of 2010 to work at her boutique beauty care store, Beauty Walk. Ms. Taibl was paid a set salary of $540 per week. Subsequently, Ms. Taibl received information regarding state law requirements for premium pay such as time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays. After bringing this information to the attention of Ms. Walsh-Dwyer, Ms. Taibl began to receive the appropriate premium pay. However, Ms. Taibl afterwards sought back pay for the premium hours she had worked from the beginning of her employment at Beauty Walk to the point when she began to receive the appropriate premium pay wages. Ms. Taibl was terminated from Beauty Walk following this request.

         Ms. Taibl sought to resolve her grievance before the DLT. After a hearing was conducted, the DLT issued a decision finding that Ms. Taibl was owed premium pay for the Sundays, holidays, and overtime she had worked. Beauty Walk appealed the DLT's decision to this Court, which issued an order that confined the appeal to claims previously made and urged before the DLT. (Def.'s Ex. A.) Ultimately, this Court affirmed the DLT's decision in a written decision filed on January 9, 2015. See Beauty Walk, LLC, 2015 WL 412873 (R.I. Super. Ct. Jan. 9, 2015).

         Following the adverse ruling by this Court, Beauty Walk filed a Petition for Issuance of Writ of Certiorari on April 2, 2015 with the Rhode Island Supreme Court. On September 24, 2015, the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an order denying Beauty Walk's petition. Thereafter, this Superior Court, Licht, J., granted a motion for Entry of Final Judgment in this matter on July 1, 2016.

         Notwithstanding the appeal having been concluded and final judgment having been entered, Ms. Taibl filed the present motion in the Superior Court on August 3, 2016, requesting attorneys' fees and interest in connection with her complaint against Beauty Walk. In support of her motion, Ms. Taibl contends that she has a right to such interest and fees under G.L. 1956 § 28-14-19(c).[1] In contrast, Beauty Walk contends that § 28-14-19(c) authorizes the Director of the DLT or his/her designee, and not the Superior Court, to make an award of attorneys' fees and interest. Additionally, Beauty Walk argues that Ms. Taibl's motion for attorneys' fees and interest is untimely and barred by the doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata.

         II

         Analysis

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