A federal judge has allowed a Fair Labor Standards Act () class-action lawsuit against BellSouth Telecommunications to move forward.
The class consists of “level-one” managers who claim they have been misclassified so the company won’t have to give them overtime pay. BellSouth’s level-one managers primarily perform clerical duties and relay information between company managers and field technicians.
Even so, BellSouth classifies them as exempt from the FLSA. They typically work 60-hour weeks.
In addition to the misclassification charge, the lawsuit contends that level-one managers don’t receive meal and rest breaks required under the FLSA. The plaintiffs also claim BellSouth does not keep proper time records for these employees. Both charges are related to the misclassification issue because exempt workers are not entitled to rest and meal breaks and employers are not necessarily required to track’ hours.
The class includes level-one managers in Florida and eight other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
BellSouth is a subsidiary of AT&T, which is facing similar lawsuits against its Southern New England Telephone Co. and Pacific Bell units. Level-one managers at those companies have also received class status.
The Southern New England suit alone could potentially cost the company more than $60 million. That case went to trial on Oct. 3.
Note: Misclassification can be a big deal. Examine your job descriptions and org chart to make sure all employees are classified properly. Ask your attorney to participate in that review, because recent court cases may affect your classifications.