Metropolitan Life Insurance (MetLife) has agreed to pay about $3.4 million to settle a suit filed by dental consultants who claimed they didn't get overtime and benefits because they were wrongly treated as independent contractors, according to a settlement motion.
The settlement, which was filed on October 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, provides a minimum of $1,000 to each of the approximately 120 licensed dentists and dental hygienists who were part of the class-action suit. The money covers unpaid wages and employee benefits, according to the motion.
MetLife entered into the agreement but did not admit to liability or violating any laws.
"Defendants enter into this agreement to avoid further protracted litigation and to resolve and settle all disputes with plaintiffs," the motion stated.
In February 2018, Carol McNeely, DDS, who worked as a dental consultant for MetLife from 2002 until November 2017, filed a lawsuit against the insurance company. She claimed the company intentionally misclassified consultants who reviewed dental claims as independent contractors, according to the suit.
Due to the misclassification, Dr. McNeely alleged that she and other consultants did not receive overtime pay and were unable to participate in employee pension, health insurance, and other benefit plans. MetLife also did not kick in its fair share of employment taxes, according to the suit.
Furthermore, the suit stated that MetLife continuously employed dental consultants for years and controlled all aspects of their dental claim review work. As a result, the consultants were MetLife employees, and, therefore, MetLife violated several laws by treating them as independent contractors, the suit stated.