Santa Ana, CA: Appraisers in the commercial lending division of JPMorgan Chase have filed an unpaid overtime class and collective action suit, seeking to recover millions of dollars in unpaid wages based on the financial services giant' practice of misclassifying these employees as "exempt"from overtime pay, among other violations of California and federal law.
Chase' "Production Appraisers"complete form valuations of commercial and multi-unit residential properties based on well-defined criteria, allowing Chase to issue loans and refinancing secured by the properties. Chase' "Review Appraisers"then proofread the appraisals based on Chase' criteria.
The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that Appraisers have unlawfully been deprived of overtime pay and meal and rest period premiums, itemized wage statements and certain reimbursements required under California law. The Appraisers allege that they are subject to detailed standards and internal guidelines for the production and review of each appraisal, placing the Appraisers squarely outside of the so-called "white collar"exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act and California wage and hour protections.
The California overtime lawsuit, filed by Long Beach residents Kenneth Lee and Mark Thompson, seeks to represent approximately 150 appraisers, who were or are classed as Administrators.
Attorney Bryan Schwartz, who is representing the plaintiffs, said the classification is "disingenuous,"as the appraisers do not have authority to make administrative decisions about the value of the properties they evaluate. Instead, they have formulas which they have been issued to determine the value of property. The appraisers allegedly do not have the authority to deviate from those formulas.
Further, to qualify for bonuses, JP Morgan Chase has various goals related to billing, and the only way to achieve those benchmarks is to work overtime on weekends and holidays, Schwartz alleged. According to the lead plaintifs Lee and Thomspon, appraisers can work upwards of 70 hours per week, including weekends and holidays, in order to meet Chase' billing requirements.
The lawsuit is entitled Lee, et al. v. JPMorgan Chase & Co., et al. (Case No. Civ-13-511CJC).