It’s fairly uncommon to see discovery issues make their way to courts of appeal, particularly in class action or wage and hour cases. Last week, however, the Eighth Circuit issued a decision regarding the scope of discovery in a wage and hour action that may be useful in both kinds of cases in the future.
The decision in Acosta v. La Piedad Corporation, Case No. 17-1845 (8th Cir. July 3, 2018), concerned a wage and hour investigation by the United States Department of Labor (DOL) of a chain of Mexican restaurants. The DOL subpoenaed information regarding related entities also affiliated with the company’s owners, in an obvious attempt to broaden the scope of its inquiries and to tie in additional related locations. The requests included basic information about the company’s owners that was not at issue. More importantly, they sought “all documents showing the names and addresses of all other businesses that are partially and/or fully owned by any of the owners … and the percentage of ownership.” The employer refused to produce anything on that subject, prompting the DOL to petition the district court for the enforcement of the subpoena, a petition that was granted.