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Jury finds CSC 'wilfully' underpaid tech support workers

A Connecticut jury found tech support workers were 'wilfully' underpaid by Computer Sciences Corporation, ruling in favour of the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of systems administrators.

A federal jury has ruled that Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) "wrongly" and "wilfully" denied overtime pay to approximately 1,000 current and former systems administrators working in the United States.

The Connecticut jury unanimously rejected CSC's claim that its system administrators in the "associate professional" and "professional" job titles are exempt under federal, Connecticut, and California law, deciding instead late Wednesday that the workers should have been classified as non-exempt and therefore paid overtime.

The class action on behalf of CSC tech support staff was seeking overtime pay damages going back as far as 2010. It also sought additional remedies including liquidated damages, state law penalties, and reclassification of the system administrators as non-exempt, so they can receive paid overtime when working more than 40 hours in a week.

CSC merged with the enterprise services arm of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in April this year, forming DXC Technology.

See also: ATO gives DXC Technology further AU$735m for IT services

"These system administrators' hard work for CSC and its clients is a significant driver of CSC's profits and success, and they deserve to be fairly compensated," said co-lead plaintiffs' counsel Todd Jackson of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow LLP.

The case, Joseph Strauch et al. v. Computer Sciences Corporation, No. 3:14-cv-00956, was filed in 2014 in United States District Court in Connecticut. Judge Janet Bond Arterton granted class certification in June of this year, and the trial began on December 7.

The 1,000-plus plaintiffs represented in the class action are, or were, salaried employees of CSC that have the remit to provide IT support including routine installation and maintenance of computer hardware and software, server maintenance, and troubleshooting to CSC clients.

"Because the system administrators do not make policy, design the systems, or do computer programming, they fall within the protections of federal and state overtime laws," co-lead plaintiffs' counsel Daniel Hutchinson of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein LLP explained.

The jury heard over the two-week trial the system administrators represented by the class action all worked over 40 hours per week at least once without receiving overtime compensation as required by federal and state law.

In addition, they were often assigned to be "on call" at all hours to handle things such as troubleshooting tickets.

The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates federal overtime protections, meaning unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive at least time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a working week.

CSC claimed four distinct types of exemptions -- administrative, computer professional, learned professional, and a combination exemption -- however the jury unanimously rejected all of them.

The case will next proceed to a damages phase, where the court will determine how much CSC owes each class member.

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