Case Type: Wage & Hour
Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP has filed a nationwide class action against Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (“MetLife”) in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. The lawsuit alleges that MetLife knowingly failed to pay claim specialists who worked on long term disability insurance claims (“LTD Claim Specialists”) earned overtime for over four years. The lawsuit seeks over $50,000,000 in lost wages and liquidated damages.
Plaintiffs Debra Julian, a former LTD Claim Specialist in New York, and Stephanie McKinney, a former LTD Claim Specialist in Connecticut, first brought the lawsuit in February of 2017. The Plaintiffs allege that LTD Claim Specialists at the company regularly work between 45 and 60 hours per week, without the appropriate compensation for their overtime hours. They also claim that their jobs principally involve gathering information about disability claimants, entering the information into MetLife’s computer systems, and consulting with supervisors and specialized staff.
“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. Julian and Ms. McKinney seek to recover wages which rightfully belong to them 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.”
“MetLife has underpaid and overworked their employees through a ‘reclassification’ scheme,” says David Sanford, Chair of Sanford Heisler Sharp. “There are significant public interest issues at stake in this class action. All too often, companies use ‘reclassifications’ to wrongfully deny their employees overtime compensation.”
On March 22, 2018, U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan granted conditional certification of a nationwide class of LTD Claim Specialists. As part of its Order, the Court approved the distribution of notice to LTD Claim specialists to inform them about this lawsuit.
“Judge Nathan’s conditional certification is a welcome first step in addressing MetLife’s flagrant compensation practices,” says Mr. Palmer. “With this ruling, the class action can now proceed on behalf of hundreds of workers.”
Ms. Julian and Ms. McKinney seek to recover damages, including unpaid wages, on behalf of themselves and a class of LTD Claim Specialists. They also seek an injunction against MetLife to require the Company to change its wage practices going forward.