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Siegel v. Bloomberg L.P.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 16, 2015

LEE SIEGEL, PHILIP HARRIS, and JORGE OLIVEROS, Plaintiffs,
v.
BLOOMBERG L.P., Defendant.

Dan Getman, Lesley Tse, GETMAN & SWEENEY, PLLC New Paltz, NY, For Plaintiffs.

Thomas H. Golden, WILLKIE FARR & GALLAGHER LLP, New York, NY, For Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

DENISE COTE, District Judge.

Plaintiffs Lee Siegel ("Siegel"), Philip Harris ("Harris"), and Jorge Oliveros ("Oliveros") were formerly employed by defendant Bloomberg L.P. ("Bloomberg") as Service Desk Representatives ("SDRs"). SDRs are information technology ("IT") support staff members who provide technical support to Bloomberg's employees. Claiming that they were unlawfully denied overtime pay at the rate of time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of forty in a week, plaintiffs bring this action alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 206 et seq., and the New York Labor Law ("NYLL"), Art. 19 § 650 et seq.[1]

Plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on several issues pertaining to their claims. For the reasons that follow, plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is granted in part. SDRs are not exempted from the wage and hour provisions of the FLSA, but the calculation of any unpaid compensation must await trial.

BACKGROUND

The following facts are drawn from the parties' submissions and, as is required at the summary judgment stage, are viewed in the light most favorable to Bloomberg, the nonmovant. See Delaney v. Bank of Am. Corp., 766 F.3d 163, 167 (2d Cir. 2014). Bloomberg provides financial news and tools to clients around the world. Its core business is a data, analytics, and news platform delivered to subscribers through its proprietary Bloomberg Terminal.

SDRs provide technical support to other Bloomberg employees, such as its sales representatives. SDRs field inquiries from employees about their technical support needs, including questions related to computers (hardware and software), mobile technology, and telephone issues. Employee inquiries that have been submitted to the SDRs are referred to as "tickets." When an SDR receives a ticket, he must decide whether it presents a problem he can solve, and if so, how to solve it, or whether it presents a problem that must be "escalated" to a department other than the Service Desk. As they work on tickets, SDRs are expected to enter notes regarding the latest status of the resolution of the inquiry, which is known as "updating."

Although responding to employee inquiries is an SDR's primary responsibility, it is not his only one. Oliveros, for example, worked on a six-month-long special project to package and to test connectivity software. And Harris played a leadership role in a number of special projects, on which he estimated he spent "30 percent" of his working time.

SDRs are hired as fulltime employees and are generally assigned to daily shifts totaling forty hours of work per week. SDRs will, however, sometimes work more or fewer than forty hours in a given week. When an SDR's shift begins, he is expected to be logged in to Bloomberg's telephone and ticket systems, ready to field requests. It takes about a minute for an SDR to log in to those systems.

Bloomberg uses a badge system, whereby employees "badge in" when they enter Bloomberg office buildings and "badge out" when they leave. The system maintains electronic data. Throughout the day, SDRs take breaks for any number of reasons, including to visit Bloomberg's "pantry" where they can get breakfast, drinks, and snacks, to smoke, to make personal telephone calls, or simply to socialize. Unless SDRs leave the building, these breaks are not reflected in the badge data.

SDRs are not explicitly required or encouraged to work from home before or after their shifts. Bloomberg does not expect SDRs to check Bloomberg email anytime outside of their shifts, and Bloomberg does not provide SDRs with mobile devices to remotely access Bloomberg email or systems.

During the relevant time period, Bloomberg paid SDRs an annual salary, as well as a potential annual bonus. Bonuses were based on company performance, department performance, and individual metrics. Those bonuses were not tied directly to hours worked, and neither the badge data nor the system login data was part of the individual metrics used in determining bonuses.

Also during the relevant time period, Bloomberg apparently classified the SDR position as exempt from the FLSA's overtime requirements, as Bloomberg did not pay SDRs overtime. In April 2013, after plaintiffs had left Bloomberg, pursuant to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL"), Bloomberg began paying SDRs overtime. Bloomberg offered to reclassify the SDR position as nonexempt from the FLSA in connection with the DOL agreement because, based on discussions with the DOL, Bloomberg anticipated that the DOL would consider the SDR position to be nonexempt.

Siegel worked as an SDR at Bloomberg from September 2010 until June 2012. Harris was employed by Bloomberg as an SDR from January 2011 until September 2012. According to the materials submitted by plaintiffs, Oliveros began working at Bloomberg in 1997 and moved to a "Help Desk" position in 2004. He would have held that position in September 2007, which is the starting point for his damages claims. By March 2010, the Help Desk was renamed the Service Desk, and Oliveros took on the title of SDR, which he held until he left Bloomberg in January 2013.3 The materials submitted by Bloomberg, which go back to January 2010, indicate that directly before taking on the SDR title in March 2010, Oliveros's title was IT Analyst-Junior. The parties do not appear to dispute that Oliveros's job duties remained the same between September 2007, when he was employed at the Help Desk (presumably as an IT Analyst-Junior), and March 2010, when his title switched to SDR.

To show that there were weeks during which they worked in excess of forty hours, entitling them to unpaid overtime wages, plaintiffs adduce evidence of the time they spent working, both in and out of the office. To calculate in-office time, plaintiffs rely on Bloomberg's badge data. The out-of-office time is based on plaintiffs' testimony: Harris and Oliveros claim to have worked from home eight ...


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