Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow attorney Todd Jackson, then at Lewis, Feinberg, Lee & Jackson, was part of a team of attorneys that recovered $65 million in overtime wages for IBM technology workers who the class alleged were improperly classified as exempt from state and federal overtime laws.
In January 2006, tens of thousands of current and former technical support employees of IBM alleged that the company had a common practice of failing to pay overtime compensation, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, California’s Unfair Competition Law, and the wage and hour laws of 14 other states. The class members provided IT support to IBM and to its customers, and the suit alleged that IBM improperly classified them as “exempt” from receiving overtime compensation when in fact they were not exempt.
Todd Jackson, along with co-counsel from firms around the country, represented the plaintiffs, emphasizing the distinction that the law makes between people who regularly make discretionary judgments as part of their jobs, such as senior professionals or managers, and those who apply their skills but do not exercise high level control and discretion over how projects are architected and coded. The IT support workers represented by Jackson and the plaintiffs’ other attorneys were certainly skilled, but they did not make judgment calls the way executives and managers do. According to the lawsuit, that made them eligible for overtime, and IBM’s failure to pay it was illegal. In July 2007, the Court granted final approval of a $65 million settlement with IBM. It remains the largest overtime pay dispute settlement ever in the information technology industry. Several more IT workers have filed overtime pay class action lawsuits against similar practices since, and industry treatment of these employees is beginning to change.