"Bank of America employees sue to get overtime pay"
Daily Journal, November 6, 2017
A former Bank of America employee is suing the company, claiming she and her peers were subjected to unreasonable workloads that required 12-hour days and weekends, but were not compensated with overtime.
The suit claims that the bank misclassifies “client advocates” and similar positions as exempt from overtime pay. Client advocates are tasked with forwarding received Bank of America customer messages, often complaints, to appropriate departments to be answered. The responses would then be returned to the advocate, who would collate them and send the final message to the customer.
According to the suit filed Thursday, the company overburdened employees with requests which required them to work through long shifts, weekends, and legally mandated breaks without appropriate compensation. Gamble v. Bank of America, 2:17-cv-08016 (C.D. Cal., filed Nov. 2, 2017).
“This is another example of a big company cutting corners, trying to cram too much work onto the plates of front-line workers without paying them for it,” Bryan Schwartz of Bryan Schwartz Law, who represents the lead plaintiff, Sharon Gamble, said in a press release on Thursday.
“There was just too much work for one person — dozens of phone calls each day from customers screaming and cursing at us, piles of form response letters to send out, meetings with managers closely scrutinizing and approving every letter, the list goes on,” Gamble said through the same press release.
Bank of America has not responded to the complaint, which directly addresses one particular exemption that Schwartz said the company may try to apply: administrative exemption.
According to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, this exemption requires that the employee to have managerial responsibilities that regularly exercise discretion on the job.
“If you make policy, you’re usually exempt. But if you merely follow policy, you’re generally not,” said Aashish Y. Desai of Desai Law Firm PC, who is not involved in the case.
According to the complaint, client advocates were regularly evaluated and attended mandatory meetings while logging their work in spreadsheets monitored by managers.
“I think that Bank of America is going to have a hard time here, because it looks like these people were production workers, and generally this exemption does not apply to people like that,” Desai said.
Schwartz said that the administrative exemption is one of the “most overused exemptions,” and should apply to relatively few people in any company.
“The overtime laws are there so there’s a cost associated with cramming more work on an employee’s plate. It’s up to us to be vigilant,” he said.
Bank of America declined to comment on the suit through a spokesperson via e-mail.