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Calif. techies sue AT&T and Yellowpages in overtime spat

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Two California computer support technicians have launched a class action suit against their employers, AT&T and Yellowpages.com, for classifying them as 'managers' or 'engineers' to avoid paying overtime and meal breaks.

Today, Chris Shoff and Richard Traister filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, accusing AT&T and Yellowpages of multiple violations of the California Labor Code, by making employees "work substantial hours of overtime without getting paid additional wages".

One of their lawyers, V. James De Simone of Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP, said in a statement today: "These computer support technicians comprise the engine which makes these technology companies run. As such, they work long hours but with no additional pay. We believe this is contrary to the law."

Says Thomas Falvey, of the Law Offices of Thomas Falvey, co-counsel for the Plaintiffs: "Employers such as Yellowpages.com are not above the law. They must pay their computer support and repair technicians overtime wages which are required by the California Labor Code."

California law does provide for "exempt" employees, who don't have to fill in timesheets and who don't get overtime pay. Non-exempt employees get overtime pay if they have to work more than eight hours in a single day. Admittedly, there is ambiguity over how some occupations - e.g. salespeople - should be categorized. But people who install, maintain or support computer software or equipment? Since when were they supposed to be a charity for their employers?

Last November, IBM ponied up $65m to cover backdated overtime to 32,000 techies and settle a federal class action time. The company said it did not admit liability, but that it was cheaper to pay up than fight. And in April last year, Electronic Arts coughed up $14.9m to software engineers, to settle California class action overtime claims. ®

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