Case Type: Wage & Hour
Company: MetLife, Inc.
MetLife, Inc., the nation’s largest insurance company, knowingly failed to pay their employees more than $50 million over the last three years. That’s the allegation at the heart of a nationwide class action lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut by the law firms of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP and Schneider Law Firm, LLC.
The lawsuit seeks unpaid overtime wages for Claim Specialists who worked on long term disability insurance claims (“LTD Claim Specialists”) for MetLife and two of its subsidiaries, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and MetLife Insurance Company USA.
According to the Complaint, LTD Claim Specialists principally gather information from disability claimants, collect medical data, and compile other information required to process disability claims. Lead Plaintiff Stephanie McKinney, a former LTD Claim Specialist, alleges that she and others often had to perform this work outside of office hours. “LTD claim specialists regularly work between 45 and 60 hours per week,” says the Complaint. Yet, Ms. McKinney alleges, for over three years MetLife hasn’t compensated her and other LTD Claim specialists for these overtime hours.
“Claim Specialists are the foot soldiers of MetLife’s long-term disability insurance business,” explains Michael Palmer, Co-Chair of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Wage & Hour Practice Group. “Working long hours, Claim Specialists perform their duties under the tight control of a company which refuses to pay them for their many hours of overtime. Through this class action lawsuit, Ms. McKinney seeks to recover wages which rightfully belong to her and other Claim Specialists.”
According to the Complaint, MetLife used to pay its LTD Claim Specialists hourly wages and overtime pay. But in November of 2013, MetLife “reclassified” LTD Claim Specialists and stopped paying them overtime, without any change in LTD Claim Specialists’ job duties. According to the Complaint, MetLife made the change as a “cost-cutting measure.”
“This is impermissible,” says Jeremy Heisler, Managing Partner of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s New York Office. “Employers can’t shirk their overtime obligations by simply ‘reclassifying’ hourly employees.”
Ms. McKinney seeks to recover damages, including unpaid wages, on behalf of herself and a class of LTD Claim Specialists. She also seeks an injunction against MetLife to require the Company to change its wage practices going forward.
“There are important public interests at stake in this lawsuit,” explains Mr. Heisler. “Overtime laws help to prevent companies from gaining a competitive advantage by underpaying and overworking their employees. These protections are profoundly important, especially in today’s difficult economic climate.”