A federal judge in New York has conditionally certified a nationwide class action against MetLife over allegations it withheld more than $50 million in earned overtime pay from certain claims specialists since 2013.
The class includes hundreds of long-term disability claims specialists whose jobs were reclassified in 2013 after which they were deemed “exempt” and denied overtime pay. Until then, both they and other MetLife workers in similar jobs handling short-term disability claims were all paid hourly wages and overtime. Afterward, only the short-term disability specialists were paid by the hour and earned overtime.
In early 2017, former MetLife LTD specialist Stephanie McKinney sued MetLife in federal court in Connecticut. According to the complaint, McKinney routinely worked between 10 and 20 hours of overtime weekly, often from home at night and on weekends, until she left the company in 2016.
A few days later, Debra Julian, an LTD specialist in New York where MetLife is headquartered, filed suit in New York’s Southern District.
Both suits were combined, and the March 22 certification order was signed by Judge Alison Nathan. The actual order is under seal for 10 days in order for the parties to review it and request any redactions for confidential information.
The plaintiffs are represented by Michael DiChiarra of Park Ridge, New Jersey’s Krakower DiChiara and Jeremy Heisler, Melinda Koster, Andrew Meltzer, Michael Palmer and David Tracey of New York’s Sanford Heisler Sharp.
Palmer, co-chair of the firm’s wage and hour practice, said in an interview that the final class is likely to number somewhere around 500.
“We were very pleased with this result, and look forward to prosecuting this case for all of the workers,” Palmer said.
In a release announcing the ruling, Palmer decried what he called Metlife’s “flagrant compensation practices” denying LTD specialist overtime despite “consistently having to work more than 40 hours a week.”
David Sanford, chair of Sanford Heisler Sharp, is quoted saying 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.”
MetLife is represented by Christopher Parlo and Melissa Rodriguez of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. MetLife’s vice president for finance and investment, John Calagna, said there would be no comment on the ruling.