January 12th, 2013

Anyone in Minneapolis who has had an issue with their personal computer or desktop printer has likely spent some time on a technical support hotline. Despite the inconvenience created by a technical issue, support staff often comes through with a solution. According to a recently filed class-action lawsuit, Hewlett-Packard, the major printer and computer manufacturer, has intentionally failed to compensate employees for overtime work they’ve completed.

The lawsuit claims that HP consistently considered technical workers exempt employees, which makes them ineligible for overtime pay. Even though the employees were putting in more than their fair share of hours, their compensation didn’t reflect the amount of work they completed. As such, employees have joined forces to hold the company liable for violating federal employment laws regarding fair compensation.

Over the last several years, HP has absorbed a number of technology companies and their technical-service employees. In the process, the company has failed to pay overtime to thousands of workers. Throughout this time, employees have apparently noticed a consistent pattern of employment misclassification in relation to the exempt and non-exempt status.

Challenging the employment and compensation practices of a major company, such as HP, can be daunting task for one employee alone. This is exactly why the legal system allows employees to join together and seek compensation if they have all been affected by the same problem. By taking a stand, workers can ensure that their employers hear their concerns, take them seriously and work toward a resolution. Beyond compensating workers for the wages they have lost, a class-action suit such as this can inspire change and improve the work environment for current and future employees.

Source: San Francisco Business Times, “Hewlett-Packard hit by overtime pay class action suit,” Steven E.F. Brown, Jan. 10, 2013