A major law firm has just been sued for the way in which it allegedly handled a discovery dispute while it was defending a wage and hour overtime claim. The firm’s former client is alleging that – in a lawsuit asserting that it made improper payment to employees – the law firm provided too much information to the employee’s lawyer, and this resulted in the addition of more claimants, and an expansion of the entire case.
The lawsuit was filed on November 21 of this year, and claims that the defendant law firm was supposed to provide information to the employee’s lawyer in discovery regarding names and identities of other employees who had a specific job description.
Presumably, this was related to a preliminary collective certification issue. In unpaid overtime claims, and all FLSA employment claims, the lawyers who represent the employee attempt to learn the identity of similarly situated employees, so that more unpaid employees can be added to the case. Courts will often allow this, at least with respect to workers who performed jobs similar to the employee that filed the lawsuit.
In this case, the law firm was apparently supposed to turn over all names and contact information for one type of employee (employees with a specific job description) but they allegedly also provided the information for an entirely additional category of employees. According to the lawsuit, this inappropriate disclosure lead to the addition of more claims against the company.
The law firm was subsequently fired, and its new counsel made a deal with the plaintiffs for further handling of the case. The company is seeking a refund of the legal fees charged by its old law firm, as well as payment of money that the improper disclosures cost the company. The law firm of course denies the allegations against it.
Remember that when you sue an employer or a former employer for wage violation, which can include unpaid overtime, unpaid minimum wage, or any other improper employment practice under the FLSA, you have the ability, built into the law, to include other employee who were treated in the same way, and you may even be entitled to extra compensation as the person who first brought suit on the employment issue.