When an employer classifies an employee as exempt that means the employee is not eligible for overtime pay. Non-exempt employees are considered hourly wage workers and thus eligible for overtime pay should they work more than 40 hours per week. There are strict requirements set by both state and federal laws that must be met in order to classify an employee as exempt. If those requirements are not met and the employee is denied overtime pay, the employer can be sued for wage and hour law violations.
And that is exactly what Hewlett-Packard technical workers have done when the group filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, California. The technical employees are alleging in their lawsuit that the company denied them overtime pay when it classified certain technical employees as exempt, and thus not eligible for overtime pay.
Many of the employees worked at various companies that had been acquired by Hewlett-Packard, including Autonomy, Electronic Data Systems, ArcSight, 3PAR, 3Com and Palm, according to one of the plaintiffs' attorneys. The attorney said that part of the HP's success and extensive revenue is derived from the long hours and hard work provided by its technical employees who are charged with maintaining the company's information technology infrastructure. These employees should not be underpaid by HP illegally denying them overtime pay.
The suit alleges the company intentionally misclassified employees so they would not be qualified to receive the extra pay. Thousands of technical workers are seeking fair compensation for the overtime they claim to have worked without pay. The company's technical support workers include those who install, maintain and support computer hardware and software, technical support engineers and consultants and representatives for technical solutions, among many others.
Apparently a video has been posted online that offers some of the case's details and there has also been a website established where Hewlett-Packard employees can share their experiences regarding the lawsuit's claims. The company stated it is reviewing the allegations and will not comment at this time. Misclassification of technical employees is much more common than many people may think.
The law requires that employees classified as exempt must perform specific duties pertaining to managerial responsibilities or otherwise be classified as non-exempt.
Source: ValueWalk, "Hewlett-Packard Sued By Its Tech Support Employees," Aman Jain, Jan. 11, 2013
Our San Jose, California, law firm handles a wide range of employment law issues, including complex wage and overtime class-action cases involving technical employees similar to the one discussed in the above post.