A class action case involving employees who were improperly classified as exempt from overtime recently went all the way to the California Supreme Court, which is unusual for such cases. Usually, the cases are settled or dismissed at some point during the proceedings before they get so far along in the court process. The Court sent the case back to the trial court and ordered a new trial, finding there were errors at the trial court level.

Loan officers for U.S. Bank National Association sued the bank, claiming that they were misclassified as exempt from overtime rules, under the outside salesperson exemption. Normally, any employees who work over a certain number of hours in a day or a week in California get paid overtime for all of those extra hours. However, there are some exceptions to the overtime rule. One is for outside salespeople. If employees spend more than 50 percent of their time outside of the office on sales calls, they do not have to be paid overtime.

The employees who sued were business banking officers. They were assigned to work at up to four banks. Their job was to cultivate new business, and once they found clients they were turned over to client managers. They often used one of the branch offices as a home base, but sometimes worked from multiple branches or even their homes. All of the representatives of the class action claimed they spent less than half of their time outside the office on sales calls, which would mean they were not exempt from overtime rules.

The trial court listened to testimony from a small number of the class members, and ruled that the company had violated the law. Statisticians were used to determine the average amount of unpaid overtime for each person, and each member of the class was set to get an average of $57,000 out of a verdict of about $15 million. Because errors were found in the way the court used statistical sampling, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court.

This case has been ongoing since 2001 and isn’t yet over. Additional details still need to be worked out before the case is resolved. As you can see, cases involving overtime can be complex and may take a long time, especially if a large number of employees are involved. Companies may fight tooth and nail to avoid paying a huge verdict to large numbers of employees. However, if a company has violated your legal rights, it’s critical that you stand up for yourself.

In California, generally any nonexempt employee can work up to eight hours in any workday or 40 hours in any work week without being paid overtime. For any hours worked past that, employees are supposed to be paid either time and a half (one and a half times their normal rate of pay per hour), or double pay, depending on how many hours the employee has worked. Some employees who are exempt from overtime requirements are those who are in executive, administrative or professional positions, outside salespeople, employees of a state, city, or county, relatives of the employer, some truck drivers, some union members, babysitters, actors, cab drivers, and others.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employees should receive all the compensation they have earned, and if they aren’t, the company should be held responsible for damages. If you believe that you have not been paid all the compensation you deserve, call Micha Star Liberty of Liberty Law, Oakland employment attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works exclusively in the areas of employment law and personal injury, and has helped clients throughout the San Francisco – Oakland area get the compensation they deserve. She works with clients in Tracy, Fairfield, Hayward, Fresno, San Jose, Berkeley, and the surrounding areas. Call her today to schedule a free consultation.

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