A federal judge in Manhattan has denied an attempt by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to file a second motion to dismiss a contract attorney’s suit claiming that he should have been paid overtime for his work doing document review.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams issued an order on Monday accepting plaintiff William Henig’s second amended complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, which alleges that Quinn Emanuel and legal staffing agency Providus New York violated federal Fair Labor Standards Act provisions during his six weeks of work in 2012 as a contract attorney doing document review.
Quinn Emanuel had asked the judge to allow it to file a second motion to dismiss the lawsuit in response to the amended complaint, but the judge said the case should proceed as ordered last December.
The firm filed its first motion to dismiss after Henig filed his suit claiming that the tasks he performed for Quinn Emanuel in 2012 were so basic, they could not be considered “the practice of law,” which is exempt from overtime pay requirements under state and federal labor laws.
In response to Henig’s amended complaint, Quinn Emanuel argued that one of the items produced in discovery—instructions to Henig on how to conduct the document review—was “fatal to the plaintiff’s claim that he was not engaged in the practice of law.” Details of those instructions remain under seal. In her Monday order, Abrams stated, “Whether the plaintiff engaged in the practice of law is a question that will be decided in summary judgment.”
Henig’s attorney, D. Maimon Kirschenbaum, continues to maintain that the document review his client performed did not qualify as work that requires “advanced knowledge,” which can be exempt from overtime requirements.
“Quinn’s attempt to bully my client has proven completely fruitless,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Marc Greenwald, cochairman of Quinn Emanuel’s white-collar and corporate investigations practice, is representing the firm on the case. He declined to comment on Monday’s ruling.
Bryan Cave employment partner Zachary Hummel represents Providus in the lawsuit. They did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
As previously reported by The Am Law Daily, Kirschenbaum has filed a number of lawsuits in recent years alleging violations by high-profile employers of state and federal wage-and-hour laws. He also represents a second contract attorney in a separate overtime pay dispute with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. A different federal judge in New York, Richard Sullivan, expressed some skepticism about that case, according to our previous report. Kirschenbaum says that suit is awaiting a ruling on Skadden’s motion to dismiss.
Henig’s lawsuit was filed as a proposed class action, but Kirschenbaum and his client have not yet moved for class action status, he said. In 2010, Kirschenbaum represented another contract attorney in an overtime pay lawsuit against Labaton Sucharow, which was settled out of court under undisclosed terms.