California Managers Sue AT&T for Withholding Overtime Pay

December 17, 2009

In recent California employment law news, telecommunications giant AT&T and its Pacific Bell Telephone Co., and BellSouth Telecommunications Co., are being sued by over 5,000 current and former workers for withholding up to $1 billion in overtime wages--forcing managers across the country to work overtime without compensation.

According to the two lawsuits, filed yesterday in San Francisco, California and Atlanta, Georgia, AT&T is being accused of violating the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as California state laws by engaging in the company-wide, unlawful treatment of employees, with a policy that wrongfully misclassifies thousands of low-level managers as being exempt from overtime wages.

Within the AT&T hierarchy, "first level" managers are reportedly the lowest in a seven-tier management classification structure, and they have minimal supervisory roles. According to one lawsuit, first level managers serve as low-level functionaries who are expected to communicate between company management and the field technicians, and engage in duties that are primarily clerical and non-managerial. The workers claim that they don't meet the federal standard for what is classified as an exempt manager--as they do not exercise discretion or independent judgment on important matters, and their job duties are not directly related to the management policies of the company or general business operations.

Reuters reports that prior to the AT&T takeover, BellSouth used to pay all of the first level managers overtime--a policy that changed in 2007. In the past few years, many these first level workers have been expected to work more than a regular 40-hour work week without overtime pay--some reported to working up to 100 hours or more. The plaintiffs are pursuing class-action status on behalf of the over 5,000 current and former level one managers.

The suits accuse AT&T of mislabeling the managers so that they can avoid the responsibility of paying the workers for overtime hours. The first level managers claim that as well as neglecting to pay overtime, the company failed to provide legal and mandatory meal periods and rest breaks and failed to keep up to date records of the employee working hours.

AT&T employs about 290,000 workers, and is expected to generate $123 billion in revenue this year.

Howard Law, PC represents employees who have been wrongfully deprived of overtime pay and who are seeking recovery. Our team of experienced California Labor & Employment Attorneys can aggressively represent you and protect your rights. Contact us today.

AT&T Hit With $1 Billion Overtime Suit by Current and Former Employees, Atlanta Journal Constitution, December 17, 2009

AT&T Faces Suit on Overtime Pay; Plaintiffs Claim They are Mislabeled as Managers, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2009

AT&T, PacBell Sued for $1B in Overtime, Los Angeles Business from BizJournals, December 16, 2009

AT&T Workers Sue for $1 Billion in Overtime Pay, Reuters, December 16, 2009

Related Web Resources:

California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR): FAQ Overtime