AT&T: Motion to Move Wage & Hour Class Action to Florida denied

Posted on: October 3rd, 2011 by Steve Larson
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On September 12, 2011, a federal judge denied AT&T’s motion to move an at-home call center wage and hour class action lawsuit from California to Florida.  Perry v. AT&T, Case No. C11-01488 is currently pending in the Northern District of California.

The class action complaint against AT&T Mobility and Arise Virtual Solutions was filed on March 28, 2011, alleging that the companies misclassified a class of At-Home Call Center employees as independent contractors.

On July 1, 2011, the plaintiff’s lawyers filed an opposition to AT&T’s motion to move the class action lawsuit to Florida.

According to the opposition to AT&T’s motion to transfer venue:

“Defendant AT&T is the ring leader of this ‘yellow dog’ scheme to avoid the obligations AT&T owes to Plaintiff, the State of California and the federal government.  AT&T’s illegal scheme is  based on the artifice of requiring each employee to form their own corporations, which contract with Arise, which in turn contracts with AT&T.  This scheme is fraudulent because Plaintiff and the other Class Members provide services directly to AT&T and AT&T controls every aspect of their employment, which makes them AT&T’s employees under California law.  AT&T is, thus, able to unlawfully avoid all the costs of being an employer that other employers pay while, at the same time, effectively paying less than minimum wage.  This scheme purposefully flouts the California Labor Code which applies to all individuals working in California and the UCL which applies to all entities doing business in California.”

The Court agreed with the plaintiff’s lawyers, finding that the “Plaintiff has met her heavy burden of proving that enforcement of the forum selection clause in this case would be unreasonable, because it would contravene the strong public policy of California that contractual schemes to avoid the California Labor Code will not be tolerated.”

The Court also ruled against AT&T’s motion based on the finding that the “Plaintiff negotiated and executed the contract with defendant Arise from California, performed all aspects of her contractual obligations in California, and made the choice to litigate her claims in California, where the courts would be most familiar with California law.”