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Wage Theft? AT&T Lawsuit About Pay for Overtime

By Minara El-Rahman | Last updated on

A lawsuit has been filed against AT&T about pay for overtime being denied to employees because they have been misclassified as managers. The AT&T lawsuit seems to ring true to calls around the country claiming wage theft is on the rise. ABC News reports that employees filed the AT&T lawsuit because they claim that since AT&T misclassified them as managers, meaning they were exempt from receiving pay for overtime.

The employees are from AT&T offices in San Francisco and Atlanta, so the AT&T lawsuit is actually filed in both California and Georgia. They are asking for over a $1 billion dollars in damages. The plaintiffs were classified by AT&T as "level one" managers.

According to Reuters, "level one" managers are the lowest level in the company's 7 level management tier. The plaintiffs claim that the role involves minimal supervisory work. Reuters quotes the lead attorney for the plaintiffs as saying, "If you call somebody a duck and it doesn't quack, it doesn't swim and it doesn't have wings, it ain't a duck."

The plaintiffs claim that they were asked to work far more hours than a typical 40 hour work week. Some plaintiffs claim that they worked over 100 hours of overtime without any overtime pay.

What are Overtime Exemptions?

U.S. Department of Labor regulations state that all employees who earn less than $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, are automatically entitled to receive overtime pay.  Employees who earn more than that amount are exempt from overtime requirements if they are compensated by a salary, and not on an hourly basis, and if their job falls into one of the following categories:

  • Executive, in which an employee's primary duties involve office or non-manual work directly related to the management of the employer's operations, and which require the employee to exercise discretion and independent judgment.
  • Learned professional, in which an employee's primary duties involve the performance of work that requires advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning. 
  • Creative professional, in which an employee's primary duties involve invention, imagination, originality, or talent in a field of creative or artistic endeavor.
  • In addition to the categories mentioned above, outside sales employees and certain computer employees are also exempt from overtime requirements.

In this case, the plaintiffs are claiming that AT&T is misclassifying them as executives in order to avoid paying them overtime.

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