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California Overtime Lawsuits Heat Up in August

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San Francisco, CAA number of California overtime lawsuits were filed this month, from class-action labor lawsuits against AT&T and Renal Advantage to a California overtime lawsuit filed against the celebrity-owned Shin BBQ.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, a federal judge in Georgia has allowed low-level field managers for AT&T's BellSouth unit—which includes AT&T subsidiaries in California, to file an overtime class-action lawsuit against the company. The field managers claim they have been denied overtime pay since 2007; the lawsuit is seeking about $1 billion in unpaid wages. BellSouth, however, says a class action should be disallowed because the field managers each have very different duties.

Just a few months ago AT&T was hit with another class-action overtime lawsuit regarding at-home virtual call center employees. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the California employment class-action lawsuit filed on March 28, 2011, claims that the company misclassified virtual at-home employees to avoid costs.

The lawsuit alleges that AT&T hired at-home call center employees to provide billing and technical support for its customers. According to court documents, however, AT&T then intentionally misclassified the at-home workers as independent contractors to avoid overtime and other costs, which is a California labor law violation. Is the wireless giant also misclassifying their field managers?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Renal Advantage, Inc. was slapped with an overtime class-action lawsuit alleging that it failed to compensate dieticians for hours worked and "illicitly prevented them from viewing complete and accurate wage statements," which is another violation of the California labor law. According to the California labor code, "employers are required to give all employees itemized wage statements which accurately show gross wages along with the corresponding hourly rates for all time worked, throughout the pay period."

And on a smaller scale, but likely more publicized, the Shin BBQ is being sued by two former employees for failing to pay overtime compensation. As Reuters reported, "This may be a reason actors shouldn't invest in restaurants." Ironically, one of the Shin BBQ owners is Law Abiding Citizen star Gerard Butler.

Former cook Gilberto Hernandez and former dishwasher Eder Martinez allege they were "treated badly" by not getting half-hour lunch breaks after every five hours and not given their two 10-minute rest breaks a day—all violations of the California labor code. Both ex-employees claim they worked more than eight hours per day and more than 40 hours per week but were never paid overtime. And if that's not enough, they also claim that the Korean barbecue restaurant didn't pay minimum wage for "split shifts."

So far the celeb owners, including That 70s Show stars Laura Prepon and Danny Masterson, and Malcolm in the Middle actor Chris Masterson have been "unavailable for comment."

Most every actor in North America is familiar with overtime law (especially union actors), as are the policy makers at BellSouth, AT&T and Renal Advantage. But they should know that the California Overtime Laws protect California workers, from IT managers to dieticians to restaurant employees.


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