California installation techs involved in a suit against Time Warner Cable won collective action certification and partial class certification in California federal court. Plaintiffs allege Time Warner Cable misclassified California installation techs as contract workers to avoid paying overtime wages and provide benefits. California District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell rules that the installation techs (employed by Multi Cable, Inc. under a partnership with Time Warner Cable) were eligible for class certification for claims that they were paid as “faux independent contractors” from 2011 through 2015.
The class in this case is represented by Luis Luviano, installation technician. As a group, the class claims that Time Warner Cable and MCI (California company contractually obligated to supply IT services for the cable company), regularly required techs to work overtime without appropriate overtime pay. Employees were also allegedly required to purchase tools and equipment without reimbursement due to erroneous classification as contract workers. The classification was in spite of control over duties and job completion exercised by the company that was allegedly indicative of an employee/employer relationship.
The technicians in the class described control exercised over them as “contractors” to include every aspect of the job from mandatory uniforms to the hours worked to the tools and materials used for the job to decals applied on workers’ vehicles. IT workers also allege that the compensation scheme used by the company was unnecessarily complicated with pay based on both the number of installations completed and the customer satisfaction ratings received based on their performance. Techs claim that the pay system resulted in an inability to predict how much pay they could expect to receive for their work as well as making it close to impossible to verify the accuracy of pay received.
Time Warner Cable attempted to argue against the validity of the suit claiming that workers making allegations failed to establish that there was, in fact, a co-employer relationship between Time Warner and MCI, but the judge ruled that there was sufficient cause to merit further argument at trial.
Both companies involved (Time Warner and MCI) attempted to quash class certification claiming that Luviano was not a reliable representative. The companies claimed that Luviano obtained his position using a false name and social security number and that he lied about his arrest record during his application process and during depositions. O’Connell ruled that Luviano could represent the class, but allowed it on the condition that a replacement be named in the event he was eventually disqualified. The matter does raise well founded credibility issues, and could negatively impact the chances of the class prevailing on its claims, but the court does not find that one plaintiff’s (even if he is the class representative) inadequacy renders the representation as a whole inadequate as one inadequate representative plaintiff is replaceable.
If you have questions regarding misclassification or if you feel you have been misclassified in order to denied overtime pay or benefits, please contact one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.