Consolidation of Discrimination and Wage Actions Denied

In New York practice, “consolidation” is the mechanism for joining two or more actions into one.

In Lopez v. Bendell, No. 156292/2017, 2019 WL 6216089 (N.Y. Sup Ct, New York County Nov. 18, 2019), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to consolidate two actions – one asserting discrimination based on race and national origin under the New York City and State Human Rights Laws, and the other a putative wage-and-hour class action involving claims of failure to pay proper wages, including overtime pay, minimum wage, and commissions.

The court summarized the applicable law (citations and internal quotation marks omitted):

A court may exercise its discretion granting a motion to consolidate in the interest of judicial economy where there are common questions of law or fact in the absence of any showing that consolidation would result in substantial prejudice to the party opposing such relief. Consolidation is appropriate where it will avoid unnecessary duplication of trials, save unnecessary costs and expense and prevent the injustice which would result from divergent decisions based on the same facts. However, [t]he identity of facts is insufficient to merit consolidation of the actions if both actions, though arising out of the same transaction, do not require a showing of proof that overlaps[.]

Applying the law to the facts, the court explained why consolidation was inappropriate here:

A case alleging unlawful discriminatory acts, harassing conduct, and retaliation has no fact or law in common with a wage and hour putative class action where plaintiff claims that she and other similarly situated workers were not paid proper wages and commissions[.] The two actions lack an identity of issues and fact.

It therefore concluded that since “both actions arise out of distinct facts and concern unique questions of law”, consolidation was inappropriate, and denied defendants’ motion.