By Tom Momberg
A Flushing man has filed a lawsuit against his former employer in Fresh Meadows for demanding he work up to 105 hours a week with no overtime.
Marcos Leyton, 35, is charging that Pilates Bodies New York had hired him at a salary of $1,000 a week and regularly scheduled him to work seven days a week for up to 15 hours a day, which translated into 65 hours of overtime weekly, according to the complaint he filed with Brooklyn federal court.
If Leyton’s suit is upheld, his former employer will be in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.
The lawsuit contends Pilates Bodies, 159-16 Union Turnpike, Suite 210, did not properly account for all the hours Leyton worked in his time employed at the fitness studio from June 2013 to November 2014, because there was no accurate record system in place.
Leyton’s attorney, Jordan El-Hag of El-Hag and Associates in White Plains, said his client was not aware of his rights as a worker during the time he was employed. He said Leyton was often the only instructor at the fitness center and could not ask co-workers for help, but the native Argentinian also was not aware of any legal recourse.
“He went into this salaried position thinking it was permissible to be in those kind of working conditions, and did not complain much,” El-Hag said.
It was only after Leyton quit and his employer, a woman the suit names as Daniella Levi, sued him for breach of contract in December 2014, that Leyton realized his employer was in violation of labor law, his attorney said.
“That’s when he contacted me,” El-Hag said. “I know little about the prior suit, but I read that complaint. From our perspective, it appeared (Leyton) was free to leave. And after all the pressure they put on him as a really committed and good instructor, he left and a lot of his clients came and followed him out.”
Levi, who also has her own private law firm, did not respond to requests for comment, but she told the New York Post earlier this week that Leyton was in clear breach of their contract when he left and took customers with him, charging that he split her once thriving business in half.
Leyton’s lawsuit claims Pilates Bodies also wrongly classified his employment as an independent contractor. If the court finds Levi and the fitness studio to be in violation of state labor laws, Leyton could be awarded damages of $50 per workweek during the time the violations occurred up to a cap of $2,500 in addition to legal fees.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb