Notice

Consent to Sue

BLOOMBERG L.P. (GCUS Reps)

This case is brought by a former Bloomberg employee on behalf of all Bloomberg’s Global Customer Support (GCUS) Representatives for failure to pay overtime for the hours they work from March 27, 2007 through the present. The case is brought as a class action under New York Labor Law and collective action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Bloomberg’s failure to pay overtime at the rate of time and one half as required by both laws. The lawsuit charges that Bloomberg knew and required GCUS Reps to work on a salary basis but failed to pay them overtime premium pay for the overtime hours they worked.

Specifically, the workers were required to start work before their scheduled start time and had to work during scheduled lunch hours and after their shift ended providing customer support for Bloomberg. The case also charges that Bloomberg sometimes paid the workers for holiday shifts using comp time which is not legal for private employers. The case is brought as a class action under New York law for GCUS Reps who worked for Bloomberg in the last six years in New York, and as a “collective action” under the FLSA for all Reps who worked in the last three years for Bloomberg and who choose to file a “Consent to Sue” form (which can be found below). The case is brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case seeks all unpaid overtime wages due at the rate of time and one half, plus an equal amount of liquidated damages under the FLSA and an additional equal amount in liquidated damages under New York law. The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and is assigned to the Honorable J. Paul Oetken, U.S. District Judge.

Individuals who worked as GCUS Reps or who worked at other divisions of Bloomberg and who also did not receive overtime pay at the rate of time and one half, are encouraged to call Getman Sweeney (845-255-9370 and ask to speak with Janice Pickering) to review whether the failure to pay overtime may have been a violation of law. The mere fact that an employer pays an employee a salary does not legally exempt the employee from entitlement to overtime premium pay.

Status Reports

Settlement Checks Mailed – Posted July 29, 2016

Settlement checks for class members were issued on Friday, August 19th. Class members who have not received their checks, should call the claims administrator – Simpluris – at 888-427-9244 to inquire and verify that the check was mailed to the correct address.

Settlement Approved – Posted July 20, 2016 (revised July 22nd)

On July 13, 2016, the Court held a hearing and approved the settlement (issuing a final approval order). Settlement checks are expected to be mailed to participating class members on or near August 26th.

Settlement Notice Mailed – Posted May 9, 2016

The notice of settlement was mailed on May 5, 2016 by the Settlement Claims Administrator Simpluris. If you do not receive your notice letter within a week of the mailing date, you may call Simpluris at 888-427-9244 to check the mailing address they have on file for you. You may also read a generic form of the court-approved notice by opening this link.

Court Grants Preliminary Approval – Posted on April 11, 2016

The settlement in this case was “preliminarily” approved by the District Court on April 5th. A notice will issue on or about May 5th to all class members, advising them of the amount they are expected to receive and their rights to claim, object to the settlement or exclude themselves from the case. Class members are defined as “Current and former U.S.-based GCUS Representatives who worked for Bloomberg L.P., including GCUS Representatives who worked through an employment agency, between March 26, 2007 and March 31, 2014. Any class members who have moved since they worked for Bloomberg, or who have not supplied Getman Sweeney with an updated address, should contact Getman Sweeney with their current address so that we can be sure the notice will be sent to the right address. If we do not have your correct current mailing address, you may not receive your notice or your settlement payment if the settlement is approved.

Settlement Presented To Court for Preliminary Approval – Posted on March 29, 2016

Plaintiffs have presented the settlement to the District Court Judge Oetken to review for “preliminary approval.” If the Court finds the settlement to be fair on its face, he will direct that notice be issued to class members. Once class members receive notice, they will be permitted to review the settlement terms, accept it if finally approved, object to the terms, or opt-out of the case. Based on the response, the Court will determine whether to grant final approval.

Mediation Held – Posted on July 22, 2015

Following a mediation held between the parties and JAMS Mediator and former U.S. Magistrate Judge Diane Welsh, the parties have reached a tentative settlement of all claims in the case. The parties will draft a formal settlement agreement and advise the Court of the terms shortly. If the Court preliminarily approves the settlement, a notice will be issued to all GCUS Representative class members to consider. Class members will have the right to accept, object, or withdraw from the settlement.

Bloomberg Agrees to Withdraw Defenses – Posted on February 18, 2015

On February 3, 2015, the parties by mutual agreement filed a stipulation with the court in which several important case issues were resolved. Bloomberg agreed to withdraw its defenses related to any exemption from overtime coverage for the GCUS representatives in the class covered by the case. This means that Bloomberg is not disputing that GCUS representatives are protected by the overtime provisions of the FLSA and New York Labor Law. They also agreed to withdraw any “good faith” or lack of willfulness defense, which means that they will not contest that plaintiffs are entitled to three years’ worth of damages under the FLSA instead of two, nor will they contest plaintiffs’ right to liquidated damages under the FLSA or New York Labor Law to the extent that damages are awarded for failing to pay overtime.

Plaintiffs in turn agreed to withdraw discovery demands related to the issues on which Bloomberg was dropping its defenses. Plaintiffs also agreed to withdraw FLSA consents to sue for class members whose employment in GCUS ended before the three year period covered by the federal statute of limitations. These federal claims will be barred by the limitations period regardless of this stipulation. (These former employees however would remain members of the New York State class under the state statute of limitations of six years.)

The result of the stipulation is that the issues in the case have been significantly narrowed, leaving only the number of hours worked and the method of calculating overtime as issues to be resolved either by trial or settlement.

Currently the parties are engaging in motion practice before Magistrate Gorenstein, concerning whether Bloomberg may informally speak to Team Leaders or other managers who are members of the class in this case.

Court Ordered Notice Delivered – Posted on April 11, 2014

US District Judge J. Paul Oetken directed the mailing and emailing of a Class Action Notice in this case so that Class Members can learn their rights. There are two different overtime laws raised in this case, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York State Labor Law. Both laws have different procedures concerning how claims are raised. The notice advises GCUS Reps that if they wish to assert their federal FLSA overtime rights, they must file a Consent to Sue form. Under the state law, GCUS Reps do not need to do anything to be part of the case. But, since the remedies available to GCUS Reps are cumulative, it is necessary to file the Consent to Sue form in order to obtain the maximum remedy, if the case is successful.

Court Certifies Class Action in this Case – Posted on March 19, 2014

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken today certified this case as a class and collective action against Bloomberg and ruled that GCUS Reps must be given notice of their rights to participate in the case. Plaintiffs had filed a motion for class certification as to NY Labor Law overtime claims and collective certification of FLSA overtime claims, in June of 2013. Bloomberg opposed the Plaintiffs’ class and collective action motion on numerous grounds. The Court today overruled every single objection filed by Bloomberg. In addition, the Court approved the notice proposed by Plaintiffs and directed Bloomberg to supply the names and addresses of all GCUS Reps eligible to join the case within ten days so that Plaintiffs can deliver notice. In addition, due to the Court’s delay in ruling on the motion with respect to FLSA claims, Judge Oetken “tolled” the statute of limitation on class members’ Fair Labor Standards Act claims beginning June 19, 2013. This means, that claims going back to June 19, 2010 will be permitted to join the FLSA portion of the case. GCUS Reps who worked from March 26, 2007 will be considered class members in raising the New York Labor Law overtime claims against Bloomberg. Getman Sweeney considers this ruling a highly significant victory, which follows one day after the District Court (Judge Daniels) had ruled that Bloomberg GTEC Reps had the right to proceed with a Class Action.

US Department of Labor Settles With Bloomberg – Posted on April 26, 2013 (updated on April 29th)

Getman Sweeney has just learned that Bloomberg has been privately negotiating a deal with the US Department of Labor (USDOL) to minimize its federal FLSA overtime liability to GCUS Representatives. The good news is that Bloomberg admits it owes time and one half overtime as a result of the investigation and it will begin paying overtime for hours over forty going forward. And although it would appear that Bloomberg’s sending out back pay checks would be a good thing, there are serious consequences to cashing the settlement check that should be fully considered before doing so. Under the deal with the USDOL, Bloomberg has already or will shortly be sending out checks to GCUS Reps purporting to settle FLSA overtime claims for work done between July 4, 2009 and July 2, 2011. The bad news is that cashing this settlement check will waive (or renounce) FLSA claims that are worth significantly more than Bloomberg is paying under this very limited settlement.

For example, the settlement with USDOL will pay overtime due using the “Fluctuating Work Week” (FWW) method of calculation, which has been specifically disallowed by the US District Court for the Southern District of NY. The FWW method calculates overtime pay due using the 1/2 time method (for example, a rep working 45 hrs at $800/wk leads to $44.44 in FWW overtime due) , rather than the time and one half method ($800/40 = $20/hr X 1.5 = $150 time and one half overtime due). Also, the USDOL settlement does not pay “liquidated” or double damages which are called for by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which would be another $150 due for the week. In effect, Bloomberg is sending checks for less than 1/6th of the actual amount due under the FLSA ($44 instead of $300 per week using the examples shown). It also appears that the USDOL settlement calculations were based upon badge in and out data only and that GCUS Reps who worked some hours at home will not be paid at all for that time. Based on the use of the FWW backpay methodology and the failure to pay double damages as provided for by the FLSA, Getman Sweeney considers the settlement backpay inadequate.

It is important to know that there are two ways that cashing a settlement check does not outright prohibit participation by GCUS Reps in this litigation. First, GCUS Reps who cash their checks will still be permitted to have their NY State Labor Law overtime claims heard as part of this case, provided that the Court ultimately certifies the case as a class action. Second, the settlement will not cover claims for work outside the period of July 4, 2009 to July 2, 2011 and these claims are covered by the case brought by Getman Sweeney. Thus, cashing a settlement check does not completely prevent participating in this case. However, it may seriously diminish your entitlement to FLSA backpay.

GCUS Reps who would like to sue for the entire amount of back wages and double damages must NOT endorse the check, but should instead fill out a Consent To Sue Form and fax, email, or mail it to Getman Sweeney to bring their FLSA claims in this case. Please call Getman Sweeney and ask to speak with paralegals Janice Pickering or Carolyn Mow for further information or help in deciding whether to cash the settlement check.

Video Update About Case – Posted on April 10, 2013

Getman Sweeney has prepared a short video concerning the lawsuit against Bloomberg L.P.

Complaint Filed – Posted March 20, 2013

The document which begins a lawsuit is called a “complaint.” Plaintiffs have now filed a complaint in this case with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Click here to review the complaint in this case.
 

Answers to Common Questions – Posted March 20, 2013

Do I have to pay to join the case?

No. The attorneys representing plaintiffs are Getman & Sweeney, PLLC and we are handling this case on a contingent basis and will only be paid when we win through a settlement or final judgment.

What claims are covered in this case?

The complaint covers claims for overtime under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the New York Labor Law. The specific violations claimed are that, by paying a salary alone, the Defendants failed to pay wages at the rate of time and one half to its GCUS Reps. The mere fact that an employer pays a salary does not avoid the requirement to pay overtime at the rate of time and one half.

What work locations are covered by this lawsuit?

The FLSA claims in this lawsuit covers the PC Help Desk Workers who worked for Bloomberg anywhere in the U.S. If you worked for a different Bloomberg division or department and you also did not receive overtime pay, please contact Getman Sweeney.

What damages are sought?

Damages sought under the FLSA include back overtime wages, an equal amount of liquidated damages, interest, and fees and costs for each violation. Damages for the state law claims include back overtime pay and liquidated damages, interest. Under the overtime laws, a losing defendant is required to pay for workers’ and fees and costs. The FLSA provides for liquidated damages in an amount equal to the back pay owed and allows claims going back three years from when someone affirmatively joins the case by filing a Consent To Sue Form. You must send us a signed Consent To Sue Form to bring your federal wage and hour claims in this action.

How far back can claims be made?

Under the FLSA, you are entitled to make claims for the period extending back three years from the date your Consent To Sue Form is filed in Court. Bloomberg will be entitled to argue that its violations were not willful and that its claims should only be limited to a two-year period preceding the filing of your Consent To Sue Form. This two or three year period is called the “statute of limitation.” The state wage claims have different statutes of limitations, going back six years from the date the complaint was filed in Court.

How do I join the case?

To bring claims under the FLSA for back wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages in this action, you must affirmatively join the case by filling out a Consent To Sue Form and returning it to Getman Sweeney to be filed with the Court. Even individuals who do not fill out a consent to sue form MAY be part of the state wage claims which are brought as a class action, but only IF the Court ultimately decides that the case may go forward as a class action. Individuals who want to present all of their claims to the Court should fill out the Consent to Sue form and return it to Getman Sweeney to be filed with the Court.

Can I wait to file my Consent to Sue form?

You are not part of the FLSA case until your Consent To Sue Form is returned to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and filed. If you delay in filing the consent to sue, part or all of your claim may be barred by the statute of limitations.

Can Bloomberg fire me or take action against me for joining the case?

The law prohibits retaliation for joining an overtime lawsuit. If any employee suffers retaliation, Bloomberg would be liable for at least double the injury caused to the employee, and possibly much more. Notify us immediately if you think any retaliation occurs. Retaliation is rare in overtime cases, because an employer can suffer such serious penalties.

Can Bloomberg or its attorneys contact me about this case?

Employers are generally permitted to contact unrepresented employees about a case, that is, until they have filed a consent to sue. Nevertheless, employers and their attorneys make it a regular practice to speak with current employees. Even though they are not permitted to do so, employers and their counsel have in many cases tried to discourage employees from joining wage hour cases. And they have tried to get employees to make a statement that can later harm their ability to join a lawsuit or otherwise interfere with their claims. Here are the rules for employer attorney contact with employees about a case: First, employers’ attorneys should advise employees that they should secure their own counsel before speaking with the attorney. Second, Attorneys for the employer may not give employees legal advice. Third, employers’ attorneys are not permitted to give false or misleading information about a case. Fourth, they are required to inform an employee that they represent the company and that the employee is not required to give a statement. You should know that statements that employees give to employers or their lawyers are generally sought to defend the company against the suit seeking back wages the company may owe its employees, including wages owed to the employee giving the statement. Getman Sweeney strongly believes that employees who may have back wage claims should not give statements to an employer or its attorneys without receiving legal advice first. If you are asked to provide information or give a statement, you can contact Getman Sweeney immediately. The call is free and confidential.

 

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