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You are Here: Home > Blog > IT Worker Sues Apple for Overtime Pay

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IT Worker Sues Apple for Overtime Pay

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

A network engineer who formerly worked for Apple, Inc., has filed a class-action lawsuit against the maker of iPods, iPhones and Mac computers regarding final pay, work breaks and mandatory overtime without overtime pay. Those of you who are IT workers might be interested in the outcome of what could be a benchmark case regarding overtime pay.

Walsh v. Apple, Inc. et al will likely be a benchmark case if it goes to court, because it’s a Federal wage and hour lawsuit that will just as likely set a precedent as to whether or not network engineers (and perhaps other IT workers who perform similar duties) are eligible for overtime pay under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In his case filing, Plaintiff and Network Engineer David Walsh alleged that Apple repeatedly violated the FLSA and equivalent California labor code, by forcing him and other network-support personnel to work mandatory overtime without overtime pay.

Workers who are “nonexempt” under the FLSA and work more than 40 hours per workweek, are entitled to receive overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular wages. California overtime law is more generous, in that nonexempt workers are entitled to receive overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular wages for more than eight hours and double time for more than 12 hours of work per workday.

Walsh also alleged that Apple failed to provide the following, in violation of California labor code.

According to Walsh, Apple deliberately and systematically misclassified workers as exempt from (not eligible for) overtime pay. He claimed that Apple created numerous job levels and a multitude of job titles to make it superficially appear that hundreds of jobs were unique, when, in fact, the jobs were substantially similar.

In other words, Walsh claimed that Apple avoided paying overtime by classifying workers according to manufactured or beefed-up job titles, while intentionally ignoring job duties. As an example in his case filing, Walsh indicated that Apple stuck the prefix “senior” before the job title “network engineer,” despite that Apple’s network engineers performed essentially the same duties regardless of job titles.

When employers classify workers as exempt or nonexempt, it’s job duties that count under the FLSA and equivalent state labor laws, not job titles.

Walsh’s case filing further indicates that Apple’s network support jobs should be classified as nonexempt, because the duties are routinely repetitive, involve manual labor within a defined skill set and adhere to a strict protocol, the deviation from which would require management authorization; subsequently, the jobs don’t require as much independent judgment as do exempt jobs that are correctly classified under the FLSA.

Walsh also complained that Apple did not grant him overtime pay for his on-call time, even though he had to be ready at all times to immediately respond to tech support calls for seven days in a row, about every six weeks.

The FLSA does not require employers to pay overtime to employees for on-call (standby) duty, unless it places such restraints on employees that they cannot effectively use their standby time for personal pursuits.

Walsh filed his class-action lawsuit with the United States District Court, Southern District of California. For more information from the case filing (“complaint”) and to follow the lawsuit, see the resources for Walsh
v. Apple, Inc. et al
provided by Justia.com. By the way, if you intend to follow the case, it might take years to resolve if it goes to court.

For more information about overtime pay under the FLSA, see the article Overtime Pay (also linked above). Consult an attorney for legal advice if you have issues similar to those in Walsh.

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