A lawsuit over overtime pay, led by appraisers against Bank of America, has been certified as a class action case by a federal judge in Santa Ana, an attorney representing the plaintiffs said today.
About 350 appraisers across the country will be part of the class, including about 185 from California, according to attorney Bryan Schwartz, who filed the lawsuit in April 2013 on behalf of Terry Boyd, a former appraiser for Bank of America and its in-house appraisal firm, Landsafe. Boyd, who was affiliated with the Ladera Ranch office, lives in Trabuco Canyon.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter approved certification of the class on Friday.
Schwartz argues in the lawsuit that the appraisers should not be classified as administrators, which would exempt them from overtime pay, because they are not "engaged in overall strategy decisions for Bank of America," such as establishing guidelines for all appraisers.
The appraisers are issued formulas to determine the value of property and do not have the authority to deviate, Schwartz said.
Bank officials have claimed the appraisers are not entitled to overtime and breaks because they are company administrators or are "learned professionals," Schwartz said.
"While it involves a lot of skill and training, it's not like a lawyer or a doctor, which requires a prolonged course of specialized instruction," Schwartz said.
Bank officials have also claimed that many of the employees worked from home, so no one was denying them meals and breaks, but Carter noted the company has to do more to make sure the employees get break time.
"Employers do not escape liability simply by having a formal policy of providing meal and rest breaks," Carter said in his ruling.
In April, a $5.8 million settlement was reached in a class-action federal lawsuit on overtime pay and benefits covering about 350 "review appraisers," who oversee appraisers. That settlement was finalized last week, Schwartz said.
In the current case, the appraisers will seek a summary judgment in their favor, but if that is not approved, a trial is expected around the middle part of next year, Schwartz said.
Schwartz filed a similar federal lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase in April of last year. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered that case to mediation.
--City News Service