The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) wrongly classified at least 100 dentists and potentially hundreds of other health professionals across the country as independent contractors, according to a complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York on behalf of dentist Carol McNeely, DDS.
This misclassification enabled MetLife to avoid paying the employer share of employment taxes, paying overtime wages, and providing pension, health insurance, and other benefits that employees are entitled to, the complaint alleges.
According to the complaint, MetLife used dentists and other types of health consultants to evaluate insurance claims. It also contends that MetLife continuously employed these consultants for years and controlled all aspects of their claims work. As a result, the complaint alleges, the consultants were MetLife employees, and the company violated several laws by treating them as contractors.
“This is part of a national problem,” said Cyrus Mehri, founding partner of Mehri & Skalet, an employment class action law firm based in Washington, DC, that brought the suit to court with Stacey Gray, PC. “The IRS estimates that employers misclassify millions of workers as independent contractors instead of employees across many different industries.”
“It is hard to believe that MetLife, which is in the business of providing employee benefits to employees of other companies, did not intentionally misclassify its own workers and thereby denied them the same types of benefits that it provides,” said Stacey Gray, principal of Stacey Gray PC and co-lead counsel in the case.
McNeely worked for MetLife as a dental consultant from 2002 through October 2017. She brings the proposed class and collective action on behalf of all health consultants who worked for MetLife throughout the country. The claims reach back from three to 10 years, depending on the type of violation alleged.
A spokesperson for MetLife said that the company is now reviewing the complaint and had no further statement about the matter at this time.