Law Firm Being Sued for Failure to Pay its Paralegals Overtime

A law firm in New Jersey has been hit with a putative collective lawsuit this week filed by paralegal Jason Barros on behalf of himself and several other current and former paralegals. Barros filed the suit against Pasricha & Patel, LLC in which he and his colleagues accuse the firm of intentionally assigning an overtime-exempt designation to paralegals and subsequently failing to pay them the time-and-a-half rate for time worked over the 40-hour weekly standard as defined and required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The suit claims that for at least the last three years the law firm has been engaged in a system of misclassifying paralegals as exempt from overtime knowing that their paralegals routinely worked well over the 40 hours per week.

According to the complaint filed, Barros had accumulated 440 hours of overtime in 2011, 375 hours in 2012, 75 hours in 2013, and 60 hours up to the time of the filing so far in 2014. He claimed that these types of numbers were extraordinary to be sure but that they were not uncommon at Pasricha & Patel and were actually similar to those of his colleagues at the firm.

The complaint stated that Barros and his colleagues were entitled to liquidated damages and that the alleged conduct perpetrated by the defendants was intentional, repetitive, and consistent and that it “caused significant damage” to all parties involved.

Conversely, the defendants claim that it assigns nonexempt status to all of its paralegals and cited the US Department of Labor’s regulations regarding paralegals and legal assistants and the fact that they do not qualify as “exempt learned professionals.”

According to the filing, the firm’s partners and co-defendants in the lawsuit, Sheetal Patel and Gary Pasricha, are the decision makers when it comes to employment issues at the firm including pay rates and overtime policies.