Federal District Court in Dallas Grants Employee Leave to Add Additional Defendant in Wage & Hour Lawsuit

When an employee files a Dallas wage and hour lawsuit, he or she has an obligation to name every party against whom liability may lie, if he or she seeks legal redress against those businesses or individuals.

The same is true for a defendant filing an answer or counterclaim: pleadings should be as thorough as possible, given the information available when such documents are filed.

Sometimes, however, additional information becomes available as a case develops, such that permission to file an amended pleading (or even add a new party to the lawsuit) may be sought by one side or the other.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was an employee who filed suit against the defendants, the plaintiff’s employer (a corporation) and a certain individual, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, attempting to assert a certified collective action for unpaid overtime pay pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219. According to allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendants failed to pay her and the putative class members the federally-mandated minimum wage, thus violating the FLSA.

The plaintiff’s complaint was originally filed in March 2018, and conditional class certification was granted about two months thereafter. In March 2019, the plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend her complaint to add another individual as a party-defendant pursuant to 29 U.S.C. 21 § 203(d). The defendants purportedly opposed the motion, but they did not file an opposition response.

Decision of the Court

The federal district court first noted that the plaintiff’s motion was filed within the extended deadline for joinder of parties and amendment of pleadings previously set forth by the court. The court also observed that, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2), courts are to freely give leave to amend when just requires that such be done; however, the granting of such leave rests within the discretion of the trial court. Because the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend was filed within the time set forth by the court for such matters, there was a presumption of timeliness. However, the granting of leave was not “automatic,” according to the court.

A court deciding whether to grant a party leave to amend his or her pleading must consider several factors, including undue delay, bad faith, failure to cure deficiencies by previously allowed amendments, undue prejudice, and futility. In considering these factors, the court found that the plaintiff should be granted leave to amend her complaint to add the additional party defendant. The court so held because it found that the plaintiff had not previously sought leave to amend and her motion did not reflect any undue delay, bad faith, or dilatory motive.

In so holding, the court accepted the plaintiff’s explanation for the motion to the effect that she was not aware that the proposed new party-defendant was a part owner of the corporate defendant and was actively involving in managing the business and its employees until have she had filed her original complaint and engaged in the discovery process. Under 29 U.S.C. § 203(d), the proposed party-defendant was potentially liable as an employer; the defendants having failed to respond to the plaintiff’s motion and having not showing any unfair prejudice, the court directed the clerk to file the plaintiff’s first amended complaint forthwith.

Dallas Wage & Hour Law Attorneys

There are a seemingly endless array of state and federal laws that govern the relationship between employers and employees these days. If your business has been accused of violating a wage and hour rule or regulation, you should talk to an attorney who practices in this area of the law as soon as possible. To schedule a consultation with a member of the Key Harrington Barnes law firm in Dallas, call us now at 214-615-7925.

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