In this class action, the plaintiffs allege they were misclassified as “exempt” employees while employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) LLP as audit associates. The class consists of all PwC audit associates employed in California and seeks to recover overtime and other benefits for approximately 2,000 class members.
On March 25, 2008, KCR obtained class certification in a lawsuit brought on behalf of unlicensed associates who were employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in California from October 2002 through July 2008. The actual definition of the class certified by the court is:
All persons employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers in California who, at any time during the period October 27, 2002 to the present, (a) worked as associates in the Attest Division of PwC’s Assurance Line of Service, (b) were not licensed as certified public accountants by the State of California for some or all of the period they worked in this position; and (c) were classified as exempt employees while working in this position (“Class” or “Class Members”).
To date, there has been no decision on the merits of the case. The case is set to go to trial in July 2009.
Who is not included in the class?
Not included within the class definition are Senior Associates in Attest or Senior Associates and Associates employed in PwC’s Tax and Advisory Departments. The case also does not include any employees located outside of California. However, KCR is presently investigating the possibility of filing cases on behalf of these other employees. If you are not included in the certified class and are interested in pursuing a claim, please email attorney Stuart Talley.
What are the Potential Damages Being Sought?
The plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleges that PwC’s non-licensed associates in its attest division were improperly classified as “exempt employees” and, as such, were denied overtime pay and other benefits during their employment. Specifically, the plaintiffs contend that only certified public accountants (“CPAs”) can properly be classified as exempt from receiving overtime under California law. The lawsuit seeks unpaid overtime, premium wages for failing to provide paid rest breaks and compliant meal periods, waiting time penalties for failing to pay former employees all that was owed to them on the date they left PwC, statutory damages for failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements, and statutory interest on wage claims at the rate of 10% per annum.
The amount of potential damages when an employer fails to properly classify its employees can be substantial. For example, if the average overtime for a full time associate is assumed to be 280 hours and an average salary (converted to an hourly wage) is assumed to be $24, then time and a half of $36 times 280 hours is $10,080 per year of employment. This calculation does not take into account likely double time that would be owed during this time period.
Additionally, the failure to pay wage compensation for unpaid rest breaks results in PwC having to pay an hour’s pay for each day that a rest period was not provided. If the average number of working days is 250 for an attest associate and the average wage is $24, then this amounts to $6,000 per year. An additional hours pay may also be due for each day a lawful meal period is not provided.
Finally, with respect to an employee who is no longer employed at PwC, they would be entitled to recover penalties for PwC’s failure to pay all wages when due. This penalty is calculated by taking the daily rate of pay and multiplying by 30 days. Assuming an hourly rate of $24 this would total $5,760.