A defendant in a FLSA collective action case is fighting an initiative to compel it to produce information that the named plaintiffs allege is relevant to their discovery requests. The defendant labels the requests a “fishing expedition.” The case is entitled Martinez et al v. T-Mobile Ltd. et al., and was filed in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois.
The plaintiffs want the defendant, Wireless Vision LLC, to produce electronically stored information to support (supposedly) their claim that it was the Company’s policy to have employees work before they clocked in to start the day and after they clocked out, as well as working through clocked-out breaks. They claim they were not paid for those hours. The Company refutes this by affirming that it has produced thousands of pages of documents in an appropriate and acceptable format, records such as payroll records, personnel files and disciplinary records.
The Company’s papers that the “plaintiffs’ motion is like a tree without roots. The premise of the motion is that the plaintiffs’ are automatically entitled to unspecified ESI; from assumed repositories of ESI in the hands of Wireless Vision; that are assumed relevant to the case; which entitlements are based upon unstated search protocols with no safeguards at all and no consideration of feasibility and costs.” The Company asserted that if the plaintiffs wanted the information in a different format, they should have to convert it. The Company also asserted that the plaintiffs should make a showing as to the reason what they sought was discoverable and why the information thus far produced was not sufficient.
The plaintiffs counter by claiming that although almost one-thousand pages were produced, this was nothing more than timekeeping, payroll and personnel records for the nine opt-in plaintiffs and the Employee Manual. The plaintiffs want emails and documents relating to the Company’s payroll and timekeeping software, performance evaluation programs, commission structure or training of sales representatives. The plaintiffs also claim that the information they want is easily accessible, as the Company’s own IT department had control over all of its computer systems.
The plaintiffs claimed they worked before they officially clocked in and they were compelled had to collect supplies, prepare equipment, meet with supervisors and other duties. They also claimed working time after they punched out, sometimes for allegedly several hours, to perform other job-related duties.
The discovery requests appear burdensome and excessive. The problem is, as I have found, that lower federal courts, especially Magistrates, are being fairly liberal in the amount and kinds of information that they are allowing to be discovered in FLSA collective action litigation.