Employment & Business Attorneys Campbell CA

Just because you call someone an 'outside salesperson' doesn't make it so....

Nora recently completed a three-week jury trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.  The trial was the first phase of a bifurcated (fancy talk for “divided”) class action involving the claims of over 500 plumbers who were misclassified as “outside salespeople” and therefore unfairly deprived of wages and overtime. One would think that paying a plumber by the hour would seem fairly obvious, but the employer in this case insisted that the plumbers were not plumbers; instead, they were–get ready–“selling plumbing services.” So, according to the employer, when the plumber came to your house to unclog your sink, he was not really a plumber, he was a “salesman” trying to get you to buy the “service” of unclogging your sink.

The problem, of course, is that the “salesman” in our case was in fact the guy doing the work.

The applicable Wage Order here (No. 16) had an exemption for “outside salespeople.”  However, unlike many of the other California Wage Orders, Wage Order 16 specifically excludes individuals who “make deliveries or service calls for the purpose of installing, repairing, replacing, removing or servicing a product.”

Seems pretty clear, no?  The jury agreed, returning a verdict in favor of the class in a record 45 minutes.

The lesson here (for employers and employees) is that the label the employer attaches to the job does not control.  Thus the title (and the lesson) of this post.

More on misclassification in the days and weeks to come.

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