President Trump's pick for Labor Secretary, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. CEO, Andrew Puzder, has come under attack by workers and their advocates since his nomination was first announced in December. Rightly so. Puzder's approach to doing business and his previous statements regarding key workplace issues paint a very worrisome picture regarding how workers will fare under his watch. Just ask the workers at his own company, who, in a report issued this week, describe a pattern of workplace violations, including being required to work sick and without pay, resulting from business decisions that appear to give low priority to workers' health and well-being.
President-elect Trump rode a wave of American worker discontent all the way to the White House. A frequent refrain during his boisterous campaign rallies was that a Trump presidency would "make America great again" by bringing back well-paying jobs.
This blog has recently discussed developments in a variety of wage-and-hour misclassification cases involving Audit Associates at Big Four accounting firms. There have been two more recent developments, both relating to one particular accounting firm's refusal to disclose information (in a case in which Outten & Golden serves as co-counsel). In back-to-back orders, a federal judge in New York ordered preservation of electronic data and disclosure of documents previously filed under seal.
The defense bar has been so high on its success in defeating the Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes class action last spring that its lawyers fanned out across the county, trying to persuade judges everywhere that the era of employment class actions was over. Yet the Seventh Circuit held against this tide, affirming certification of an Illinois state-law Rule 23 class action in a wage-and-hour case, finding that the conditions of Rule 23(c)(1)(B) were met.
Novartis agreed to pay $99 million to settle the claims of a class of its pharmaceutical sales representatives ("pharma reps") who alleged that they were denied overtime pay. See In re Novartis Wage & Hour Litig., No. 06 md 01784 (S.D.N.Y.). District Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York gave preliminary approval to the proposed settlement on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. The final approval hearing will take place on May 31, 2012.
On December 20, 2011, we reported here about developments in a variety of overtime cases involving audit associates at Big Four accountant firms, including a recent conditional certification of a collective action against Deloitte (our firm is co-counsel in that matter, http://www.deloitteovertimelawsuit.com/).
The Big Four accounting firms in the U.S. - KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and Ernst & Young - retain cadres of unlicensed employees who work in high-pressure, entry-level positions variously titled "Associate," "Audit Associate," "Audit Assistant," "Advisory Associate," and "Unlicensed Associate." Their task is to execute transactions that are essentially rote and clerical. Yet the Big Four routinely classify these employees as "professional" or "administrative" to exempt them from overtime requirements under federal (Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA) and state law.