Judge sacks class action over OT pay vs jobs board operator Careerbuilder

By Scott Holland | Jul 28, 2015

CareerBuilder employees hoping to mount a class-action lawsuit against their employer are going to have to proceed on their own following a ruling in Chicago federal court.

U.S. District Judge Jorge L. Alonso issued a five-page opinion regarding the claims of Lindsay Calverley, Joseph Yeagle and Anthony Hasemen. The three accused the company, which operates a popular jobs website, of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as the Illinois Minimum Wage Law. The plaintiffs sought to certify their FLSA claim as a class action, but Alonso denied that request July 20, basing his decision on a purported lack of evidence the employees’ claims clearly applied to enough of their colleagues to warrant class action status.

The plaintiffs stated they worked as non-exempt, hourly employees in seven different positions at CareerBuilder: positions invoicing representative, revenue representative, online invoicing consultant, account executive, senior account executive, major account executive and online revenue consultant, which is a position also known as inside sales representative.

They claim they and all other CareerBuilder employees with the same job titles routinely worked more than 40 hours per week but were not paid overtime wages. CareerBuilder, they said, told them “not to report having worked more than 40 hours in a work week.”

The plaintiffs’ complaint included remarks allegedly from a man who worked as a CareerBuilder sales manager in 2009 and 2010. This employee purportedly supervised 12 account executives and, allegedly under orders from a superior, instructed his crew “to manipulate and alter their time cards to reflect only having worked 40 hours per week.”

However, Alonso noted, the report doesn’t include the job title of the manager’s boss who allegedly gave the instructions, and gives no evidence any other managers said anything to their subordinates in regards to hours and time cards. This, the judge said, represents a failure to make a minimum showing that other would-be class members faced similar circumstances.

“At best, (the manager’s) declaration shows that one supervisor may have told one sales manager not to let his subordinates report over 40 hours of work per week, not that (CareerBuilder) had a pervasive policy of altering time records,” Alonso said.

The plaintiffs also submitted 20 emails to and from various employees regarding altered time records.

“However, only four of the emails were received by employees identified as having job titles that fall within the putative class,” Alonso wrote. “Moreover, three of the emails were sent in the fall of 2011 and the fourth was sent in January 2014, more than two years later. Given the small number of emails and the time span between them, they do not support plaintiff’s allegation that (CareerBuilder) had a years-long, company-wide policy of refusing to pay putative class members for overtime work.”

Alsonso also downplayed the significance of plaintiffs’ own emails to clients and colleagues sent on evenings and weekends. Those messages only suggest working more than 40 hours a week and give no evidence or implication the plaintiffs were forbidden from claiming that time on their work schedule, he said.

He further rejected a declaration from Calverley because it was submitted with the plaintiffs’ reply brief, and also “because it is rife with hearsay and speculation” that “would not change the outcome of this motion.”

Alonso’s opinion formally denies the motion to begin notice to members of what would have been the plaintiffs’ class and also denies CareerBuilder’s motion to strike the alleged declaration from the Careerbuilder sales manager discussed in the complaint. A status hearing is set for Tuesday, August 4.

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