Our Oak Brook, Ill. employee rights attorneys were very interested to see a recent labor lawsuit against telecom giant AT&T. Bloomberg News reported Dec. 17 that two separate units of the company were hit with simultaneous lawsuits Dec. 16 over unpaid overtime. The plaintiffs seek to represent more than 5,000 current and former workers who they say were misclassified as low-level managers, so AT&T would not have to pay them overtime. Each of the two lawsuits seeks $500 million in unpaid overtime, as well as compensation for rest and meal breaks that were allegedly not granted.
According to the article, the employees were classified as “Level One” managers, even though their job duties didn’t meet the federal definition of management positions. They say they worked as many as 60 hours a week, or 10 to 14 hours a day, and were expected to be available on weekends, all without overtime pay. In fact, the Atlanta plaintiffs claim that they were eligible for overtime when they worked for BellSouth, before its acquisition by AT&T. Joe Luque, a lead plaintiff in the San Francisco litigation, said in a press release that he was chewed out when he tried to exercise managerial duties by firing a poor-performing employee. The suits come shortly after a Connecticut federal court certified a class of AT&T workers with similar complaints, in a suit filed by the same law firm.
As Chicago overtime rights lawyers, we’re pleased to see workers standing up for themselves against such a large employer. The right to overtime pay is provided by a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires time and a half for any work above 40 hours a week. This can be very expensive — so some companies, instead of hiring extra personnel to handle the work, look for ways to break the law. Mis-classifying employees as “managers” with no real management duties is one way to end-run around workers’ rights. Other employers may pressure their employees to work off the clock; work through legally required rest and meal breaks; or shift the extra hours to another week. Unfortunately, far too many workers don’t understand their rights, or are afraid of losing their jobs if they stand up for themselves.
Lubin Austermuehle represents both individuals and large groups of employees who are ready to demand overtime and back pay from employers who break the law. Even if your employer has convincing explanations for its actions, our Naperville, Joliet, Wheaton, Waukegan, Aurora, Evanston and Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys can help document and prove that your rights were violated. We can also ask a court to penalize employers who further break the law by retaliating against workers who complain. Based in Chicago and Oak Brook, Ill., we represent clients throughout Illinois, the Midwest and throughout the Untied States. To learn more or set up a free, completely confidential evaluation of your case, please call 630-333-0333 or contact us through the Internet today.