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MetroPlus Faces New OT Action From Marketing Reps

Law360 - Ryan Davis

MetroPlus Health Plan Inc., a Medicaid managed care plan run by New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., was hit with another putative class action Friday claiming it failed to pay overtime wages to marketing representatives.

The suit was filed by the same firm, Outten & Golden LLP, that represented plaintiffs in another action against MetroPlus and HHC over similar claims, which ended with a $492,000 settlement in August. The new suit seeks to represent employees who did not release their claims in that settlement.

Marketing representatives for MetroPlus routinely work over 40 hours per week, but the company requires them to sign off on time sheets that do not reflect the hours they worked, the complaint claims.

"Defendants forbid marketing representatives from submitting time sheets that reflect their actual overtime hours," the suit said. "It is defendants' policy to deprive its marketing representatives ... of overtime wages to which the law entitles them."

The suit alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York state labor laws.

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The suit argues that MetroPlus marketing representatives meet with low-income Medicaid- and Medicare-eligible individuals to discuss available health insurance options and help them complete health insurance applications.

"The marketing representatives, who often make little more than the Medicaid- or Medicare-eligible individuals they assist, work long hours trying to meet the aggressive quotes defendants' impose on them," the suit said.

Named plaintiffs Claude Massiah and Natalie Mieles claim to have worked approximately 45 to 50 hours per week without overtime pay.

In the earlier suit, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed the state law overtime claims in April, ruling that MetroPlus and HHC were exempt from those provisions as political subdivisions of New York. The settlement in the earlier case involved only the FLSA claims.

The new complaint argues that the defendants are not political subdivisions but are instead legal entities distinct from New York. For instance, HHC has a board of directors including members who are not city employees and its own legal and planning departments, it claims.

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Justin M. Swartz and Melissa E. Pierre-Louis of Outten & Golden LLP represent the plaintiffs.

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The case is Massiah et al v. MetroPlus Health Plan Inc. et al., case number 1:11-cv-05669, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.