WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Limousine companies don't have to pay their drivers overtime, a federal judge has ruled after a Westchester limousine driver sued D.L.C. Limousine Services Inc. for the extra pay.
The decision by Judge Colleen McMahon in U.S. District Court in White Plains might not permanently settle the case.
In her decision McMahon said that state law may be more favorable to the driver's argument that D.L.C. Limousine is not an "interstate motor carrier" company and therefore it should be exempt from applying overtime rules to its drivers.
Although some federal Transportation Department rules do not consider a company like D.L.C. to be a taxicab company, D.L.C. does fall within that category under relevant U.S. Labor Department rules, she said.
In her decision, the judge indicated that there were some strengths to the driver’s case that might allow him to win in state court.
Enzo Cariani, a driver with D.L.C., told the court he earned $7 per hour from the company that is based at Westchester County Airport. He worked there from October 2000 to September 2003 and sued the company in late 2003.
There was very little case law on the subject, said Robert Levine, one of the lawyers representing D.L.C. Limousine. Levine and his co-counsel Jeffrey Carton found a definition of taxicab services in a federal Labor Department handbook. Under that definition, D.L.C. was a taxicab company, although it doesn't call itself one, and its vehicles don't have lights on their roofs or meters. Both Levine and Carton are part of the Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz P.C. law firm in White Plains.
Chris Thornton, owner of D.L.C. Limousine Services, could not be reached for comment.
Cariani's lawyer Robert Goldstein said his client hasn't decided whether to appeal the case or bring a case to state court. "I would say at this point it's likely (the case will be brought before another court), but no final decision has been made."
Having to pay time-and-a-half for overtime would "definitely" be a burden on a limousine company, said Shadi Khader, general manager of Top Class Limousine Ltd. in Yonkers.
"These drivers make so much money as it is," Khader said. "They get 20% gratuity plus a high hourly wage. The average is between $15 and $35 an hour, depending on the car he's driving."