The law firm representing a group of Bojangles’ Inc. workers in an unpaid overtime lawsuit has been ordered to produce a slew of documents after sending more than 1,000 unauthorized emails to potential opt-in plaintiffs for the suit.
Notices to potential plaintiffs of collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act are closely monitored by the courts handling the cases. The follow-up emails in this case, sent by a legal assistant and marked “high importance,” hadn’t been approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
More than 100 additional plaintiffs opted into the lawsuit after the emails were improperly sent. Bojangles wanted the opportunity to strike those plaintiffs from the suit and have 100 extra hours of deposition time to make up for the botched emails.
But Judge Frank Whitney denied those requests May 14 and instead ordered additional disclosures be added into the record. Law firm Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt must produce all responsive communication following the unauthorized emails and identify each plaintiff that opted in after receiving the improper notice, Whitney said.
The firm will also have to produce a sworn certification that it has produced all unauthorized communications it initiated, he said.
The collective action against the chicken and biscuits chain was conditionally certified in October 2018. The workers say Bojangles’ misclassified them as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime wage requirements.
Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson P.A. and Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz P.C. represent Bojangles. Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt and Strianese Huckert LLP represent the collective.
The case is Mayes v. Bojangles’, Inc., 2019 BL 174701, W.D.N.C., No. 18-cv-00665, 5/14/19.