PRESS RELEASE

Patelco Sued by Misclassified Branch Assistant Managers for Unpaid Wages
Trend of Class Actions Seeking Wages to Continue Post-Brinker, Says Attorney

August 29, 2012, Oakland - A class action lawsuit filed on Wednesday accuses Pleasanton-based Patelco Credit Union (“Patelco”) of misclassifying dozens of Branch Assistant Managers as exempt employees, and failing to pay workers for overtime and missed meal and rest breaks. Yuliya Clarke, a Martinez resident, filed the case in Alameda County Superior Court.  
  
Patelco, which advertises approximately forty branches locally and assets of over $3.6 billion, classifies Branch Assistant Managers as “exempt.” Yet, Branch Assistant Managers spend the majority of their working time on non-supervisory duties, according to this suit, including day-to-day customer service, opening new accounts, and opening auto loans. If such activities comprise the majority of Branch Assistant Managers’ duties, such would place them well outside the narrow “executive” and “administrative” exemptions to California’s overtime laws. 

Clarke, the Plaintiff, alleges that she and the other Branch Assistant Managers routinely worked long hours without receiving any overtime pay. Moreover, Branch Assistant Managers missed their meal and rest breaks and were never paid premiums. In addition, the suit alleges the employees were deprived of itemized wage statements as required by California law, and that the company owes state law penalties. 

California’s Supreme Court clarified the state’s wage and hour laws in the Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court case, published this April, which many employers had hoped would stem the tide of wage and hour class actions against them, particularly alleging meal and rest period violations. Not according to Clarke’s lawyer, Bryan Schwartz, whose Oakland-based firm litigates many such cases on behalf of workers.

“Patelco is the latest in a long line of employers to misclassify assistant branch managers as exempt,” said Schwartz, discussing this suit. Such employers as Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Rite-Aid, Diesel clothing stores, Modell’s Sporting Goods, and Family Dollar, along with financial institutions like Patelco – including Citizens Bank and Charter One Bank – have all confronted misclassification suits brought by assistant branch managers and other mid-level managers or small-store branch managers. “It seems that – as with so many other employers – Patelco needs a lawsuit to change its practices and begin paying its assistants the overtime and meal and rest period premiums to which they are entitled under California law,” Schwartz stated. 

 The lawsuit against Patelco resembles multiple prior cases handled by Bryan Schwartz Law.  In Pearson, et al. v. Samsonite Company Stores, Inc.,et al., the firm successfully negotiated a class and collective action settlement in which dozens of Samsonite Store Managers operating small retail locations nationwide received approximately $1 million (nearly $8,300/each) for alleged overtime and other wage and hour violations. In addition to the monetary relief, Samsonite also reclassified its Store Managers as “non-exempt” so the managers would be entitled to overtime in the future. Most recently, on July 18, 2012, in Sanchez v. Sephora, the United States District Court in Northern California granted a motion for conditional class certification of overtime claims involving a nationwide class of “Specialists” – also mid-level, small store managers - represented by Bryan Schwartz Law against the beauty supply retailer. 

“I am eager to help my fellow Branch Assistant Managers recover the unpaid wages we are entitled to, under California law,” said the ex-employee Ms. Clarke about her case. “Hopefully, the credit union will do the right thing quickly here, for the sake of not only its employees but its members,” she said. 

The case is Yuliya Clarke v. Patelco Credit Union, Alameda County Superior Court Case Number 12645805.

Bryan Schwartz Law is an Oakland, California-based law firm dedicated to helping employees protect their rights in the workplace. Bryan Schwartz Law has successfully litigated individual, class, and collective action complaints nationwide, helping to recover millions of dollars for thousands of employees, forcing corporations and Government agencies to change their practices and punish wrongdoers.

Patelco employees or former employees who would like to learn more about the case should contact Bryan Schwartz at (510) 444-9300 or Bryan@BryanSchwartzLaw.com.