back to article Server techies 'stiffed on overtime pay' banned from ganging up on HP

Hewlett-Packard has succeeded in breaking up a class-action lawsuit brought by its tech support workers who say the IT giant stiffed them on overtime pay. In an order [PDF] handed down yesterday, Judge Beth Labson Freeman said the enterprise field-support technicians can't band together against the Palo Alto goliath, and must …

  1. Preston Munchensonton

    In doing so, HP will make it harder for the individuals to successfully sue, as they will no longer be able to pool into a large class to fight the company's massive legal team.

    Speaking as a former EDS and former HP employee, I would love to see employees stick it to HP. But this statement isn't really true. Individuals can still file lawsuits on a class-action basis, but must be more careful to ensure that the class is more homogeneous than the current attempt. Shame on the class-action lawyers for letting HP school them on this point.

    Knowing all of the employees that HP has bent over and ass-fucked over the years, there's no reason that the classes can't be larger than the one that filed, though I'm sure there are statutes of limitation that will come into play.

    Even with all that, it's still disappointing, only because the proud tradition of Bill and Dave is effectively dead and has been for a long time now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the reason they banded together like this is because it's the only way to create a class large enough to be able to fight HP's legal team. Otherwise, each class may be just two or three workers in a specific set of positions. That small, they'd be no better off than if they were to sue individually.

      If forced to go individually, they may consider the amounts at stake and may find it easier to just take HP to small claims court. Small claims cases are limited by statute to $10,000 BUT it's a strictly litigant-only courtroom: no lawyers, which severely crimps HP's legal team.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Shame on the class-action lawyers for letting HP school them on this point."

      I'm sure it's legal and above board and all the result of some of the finer points of US law, but it seems to me as a layman that the "class" of people might have a wide range of actual jobs, salaries and responsibilities but the common factor which makes them a "class" is they all have the same dispute. It seem ridiculous to tell 1000's of people that they all have to challenge HP individually on the same point of contract or law.

  2. robertcirca

    US farmers

    Every US farmer treats his cows better than lady M. and company treat their employees. Oh, and all this for share holders value. I had Compaq shares that were automatically changed into HP shares. I somehow missed to sell them immediately. No gain in value since i bought the shares back in 1996.

  3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Best outcome for HP?

    The implied assumption is the workers cases individually do have merit. Assuming most do have merit, HP may made a blunder. If enough workers file compensation claims with state and feral labor departments it could a death of a thousand paper cuts. Each case would be enough different that each one would proper attention and HP's shyster would likely be stretched thin.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Best outcome for HP?

      Except HP could employ a "divide and conquer" strategy and swamp each individual case with so much red tape it'll either make the litigant give up, make the lawyers (if they're on contingency) give up, or make the victory pyrrhic.

  4. John Tserkezis

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    "Never piss off your customers, they might not come back. More so, never piss off your employees, not only will they not come back, they'll leave a trail of destruction on their way out."

    An employer is an employer, any single employee isn't going to care about semantics of who is who.

    Or in this case, 1,385 employees.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Should Be Able to Appeal....

    Judge erred in law: unconstitutional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Should Be Able to Appeal....

      Just WHERE in the Constitution does it say they MUST be allowed to sue collectively? They're still allowed to sue for damages: individually.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Should Be Able to Appeal....

        Where does it say they're not allowed to sue collectively?

  6. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    A field technician in happier times

    Ow how cute. But the description is entirely inaccurate, should say "a nice looking model pretending to be field technician"

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A field technician in happier times

      Yup. Been in this business for 25 years and have met and/or worked with some very good female techs. But only maybe half a dozen or a dozen in all that time.

  7. Joe Drunk

    Class action vs Individual

    If they are actually interested in recuperating unpaid overtime individual lawsuits are the way to go. If their goal is merely to stick it to HP without any interest in full compensation then class action is the right choice.

    I wouldn't enjoin this class action if a significant sum were owed to me.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Class action vs Individual

      And if it's not a significant sum, then (as mentioned above) Small claims court would be a very good option. Not as much of a hit on HP (they will have to pay out, but the legal costs won't hit them as hard), but more rewarding (and a higher probability of success/settlement) for the plaintiffs - especially as the Class Action lawyers won't eat 3/4 of what HP pays out.

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