Lawsuit filed against Peloton by employee over pay frequency and religious discrimination (Sorin v. Peloton Interactive)

A new lawsuit has been filed against Peloton by a former Field Specialist employee in New York. The case, Sorin v. Peloton Interactive – 2:20-cv-05729, was filed in the Eastern District of New York on November 24th, 2020.

In the lawsuit, the employee is making two distinct claims against Peloton:

  1. Violation of New York Labor laws, related to frequency of pay. The lawsuit is seeking class action status over this claim.
  2. Religious Discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Below, we’ll look at the claims the lawsuit seems to be making against Peloton. However, just note that we are not lawyers – the following information is simply an attempt to report on what claims are being made in the lawsuit, as well as what the relevant laws claims are being made against.

Currently, both parties seem to have agreed to an extension of time to Peloton to respond to the suit (or to make an attempt to settle out of court). The new deadline for Peloton to respond would be January 29th, 2021. We will continue to report on this as more information becomes available.

Claim 1 – Violation of New York Labor Laws

The first part of this claim in the lawsuit is that Peloton paid the employee bi-weekly, instead of weekly, in violation of New York Labor laws. The specific claims (quoted below from the lawsuit) are:

  1. Plaintiff and Class Members are manual workers as defined by the New York Labor Law.
  2. Defendant was required to pay the Plaintiff and Class Members on a weekly basis, and no later than seven days after the end of the workweek in which the wages were earned.
  3. Defendant failed to pay the Plaintiff and Class Members on a weekly basis and instead paid Plaintiff and Class members bi-weekly or semi-monthly in violation of Labor Law 191

The employee filing the suit worked as a Field Specialist across different warehouses in New York, delivering bike to customers’ homes – as such they are protected by New York Labor laws. As a delivery/field specialist, the employee appears to be classified as a “manual worker”. Under New York Labor laws, there are specific rules related to pay and pay frequency.

New York Labor law section 191 states that manual workers should be paid “on a weekly basis and not later than seven calendar days after the end of the week in which the wages are earned”. It goes on carve out an exception for employers who have employed more than 1,000 people in the state (which Peloton would fall under), allowing them to “pay less frequently than weekly but not less frequently than semi-monthly if the employer furnishes satisfactory proof to the commissioner of its continuing ability to meet its payroll responsibilities”. It is stipulated that these employees for these companies “shall be paid in accordance with the agreed terms of employment”

However, the second part of the claim in the lawsuit states that Peloton “failed to provide Plaintiff with notice of his wage rate and the basis of his pay upon hire as required by New York Labor Law” section 195. Section 195 of the New York Labor Law has a stipulation requiring that employers:

provide his or her employees, in writing in English and in the language identified by each employee as the primary language of such employee, at the time of hiring, a notice containing the following information:  the rate or rates of pay and basis thereof, whether paid by the hour, shift, day, week, salary, piece, commission, or other;  allowances, if any, claimed as part of the minimum wage, including tip, meal, or lodging allowances;  the regular pay day designated by the employer in accordance with section one hundred ninety-one of this article;

As there are other field workers who were paid weekly instead of bi-weekly, the lawsuit is seeking class-action lawsuit for this part of the claim.

The overall claim appears to be that since Peloton did not provide the employee with a notice about wages upon hire stating they would pay bi-weekly, they were required to pay the employee weekly, which they did not do.

Claim 2 – Religious Discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The second claim of the lawsuit is that the employee believes they were discriminated against due to their religion, and faced retaliation as well.

The lawsuit states that the employee is of Jewish faith, and observes the Sabbath on Saturday. As such, they requested religious accommodation to not work Saturdays – but notified their supervisor they were fine working any other day, including Sundays. They were then informed that Peloton “had no policy or procedure with respect to accommodating the religious beliefs of its employees.” Since there was no policy, the lawsuit states Peloton denied their request to not work Saturdays.

After this, the employee states they contacted the HR department regarding the denial of their request. The HR department then “instructed Plaintiff to complete a form intended for employees with disabilities to request reasonable accommodation”. The lawsuit then goes on to state:

Plaintiff could not complete the form provided by Defendant’s HR representative because he does not suffer from a disability. When Plaintiff asked Defendant’s HR representative why he was instructed to complete a form intended for employees with a disability, the HR representative told him that it was the form that Defendant used for “all requests”

Around May 2020, the employee states they were reduced from full to part time, “in order to avoid accommodating Plaintiff’s religious practice and in retaliation for Plaintiff’s requests. The reason the Defendant provided to Plaintiff for reducing his employment status was that he could not work Saturdays. Defendant thereby caused Plaintiff to suffer a diminution in his employment status and compensation”. It then goes on to state that “Defendant’s discriminatory and retaliatory actions against Plaintiff caused the termination of his employment.”

The lawsuit then quotes both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1984 (which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin”, as well as the New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Executive Law section 290 as two different laws that should have protected them from this and that they are filing for relief under.

We will provide updates as they become available on this case.

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Chris Lewis
Chris Lewis is the creator & founder of Pelo Buddy. He purchased his Peloton in 2018, and uses all the different devices: Peloton Bike, Tread, Row, and Guide. He has been involved in the fitness industry for more than a decade - previously co-founding the websites Mud Run Guide & Ninja Guide. You can find him on the leaderboard at #PeloBuddy.

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