A nine-person federal jury in New Haven ruled unanimously late Wednesday that a leading multinational IT provider failed to pay overtime to about 1,000 system administrators.
The jury found that the workers in the class-action suit filed against Computer Sciences Corp., which recently merged with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services to become DXC Technology, illegally denied overtime pay to current and former technology support workers around the country. After deliberating for two days, the jury rejected CSC’s claims that its system administrators fall under “associate professional” and “professional” job titles exempt under federal, Connecticut and California wage laws. The jury found the workers should have been classified as nonexempt employees and paid overtime.
The case will now proceed to the damages phase where U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton will determine how much each class member is owed. The classes hail from Connecticut and California.
Jahan Sagafi, one of 10 attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said Thursday he expects damages to be in the “tens of millions of dollars. It will all be based on data the company will be producing in the next month.”
CSC is represented by Jackson Lewis.
Attorneys for the plaintiff class said in a written statement that their clients deserve to be adequately compensated. “These system administrators’ hard work for CSC and its clients is a significant driver of CSC’s profits and success, and they deserve to be fairly compensated,” said Todd Jackson, of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow, in a press release Thursday.
Sagafi, a partner with Outten & Golden LLP in San Francisco, said the jury verdict should be looked at as a warning to other companies who do not pay their employees the overtime to which they are entitled.
“These types of trials do not happen all the time,” Sagafi said. “The fact that it happened is unusual and should be a reminder to companies that there are workers and lawyers out there who are willing to go toe-to-toe with them and take it all the way to a jury, if necessary.”
Sagafi said the practice of not paying certain employees for overtime worked has become increasingly common. “There is a huge battle out there for fair pay for American workers,” he said. “The more companies can classify people as exempt, the more opportunity they have to squeeze more hours for the same pay and save money.”
In the CSC case, specifically, Sagafi said the company tried to use all three exemptions under federal law. Those exemptions, he said, are: administrative, for people who make rules and policies and discretionary decisions; computer professionals, primarily for programmers and architects; and learned professionals, or people with specialized advanced degrees, such as accountants and doctors.
But, Sagafi said, “no one in the class fit in any of those exemptions.”
In October, Arterton declined to revoke class certification to a subclass of plaintiffs. The subclass—associate professionals and professional system administrators—had joined a class action alleging the company had misclassified its exemption status. CSC argued the subclass should be decertified, arguing that lead plaintiff Joseph Strauch was an inadequate class representative.
Fifteen Jackson Lewis attorneys from throughout the country worked on the case. The firm’s public relations office did not respond to a request for comment.