A Federal Judge in New Jersey recently issued a short and concise opinion allowing an employee covered by an FLSA collective action to join (or “opt-in”) to an overtime rights lawsuit even though the filing deadline had expired. The decision is entitled Mejia v. Blue Bay Enterprises, LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166014 (D.N.J. Oct. 6, 2017) and is available HERE.
The Judge ruled that the employee was excused from meeting the filing deadline because he suffered from a “severe back injury” during the notice period. The Judge explained that the following four factors must be considered in deciding whether to accept an employees’ late opt-in form: (1) the danger of prejudice to the employer; (2) the length of the delay and its potential effect on the judicial proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether employee acted in good faith.
While the federal, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania Labor Departments enforce the federal and state overtime laws, most wage and overtime lawsuits are bought by private law firms like ours. Workers often can join these lawsuits by returning a judicially approved form. The recent Mejia decision explains how to analyze situations in which workers file their forms late.