Former Safelite Tech Pursues Class Action Suit Against Company
May 23, 2011

A former Safelite technician is seeking a class action suit against the company for allegations related to overtime pay, among other claims. While the suit originally was filed in a California Superior Court in October 2010, plaintiff Joseph Perez recently filed a petition for leave to appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, after his request for class certification was denied in a California federal district court in late April.

Perez, a California resident, alleges in the suit that he and other associates in the state have been denied overtime wages they claim he believes they were owed for work more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. He further alleges that the company has had a consistent policy of requiring associates within the state of California “to work at least five hours without an uninterrupted meal period and failing to pay such employees one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal period is not provided or provided after five hours.”

Perez also makes claims related to “rest periods,” and alleges that Safelite consistently has failed to provide him and others rest periods of 10 minutes per four hours worked, “as required by California state wage and hour laws.”

The former Safelite technician goes on to claim that the company has “had a consistent policy of not reimbursing associates for tools and uniforms purchased as a necessary condition and requirement of employment, as well as their out-of-pocket expenses to maintain uniforms (including sanitization) as a requirement of employment.”

The district court had denied the class certification as it “found it unlikely that prospective injunctive relief is more valuable to plaintiff or predominant in the action than monetary relief,” according to Perez’s appeal. In addition, the district court had ruled that the plaintiff must show that “questions of law or fact common to class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members, and that a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy.”

Perez claims the alleged class is composed of current and former “Mobile Pro” Safelite technicians in California who both repair and replace auto glass. “The essence of plaintiff’s claims is that [Safelite] has violated California law by failing to pay overtime to its Mobile Pros,” writes Perez’s counsel.

One of the major controversies in the case, according to court documents, has been whether technicians can be exempt from overtime under the outside sales exemption. According to court documents, Safelite argues that the California technicians noted in the case do fit into this classification, which requires that such employees spend 50 percent or more of their time selling. However, Perez’s counsel argues that, “given the number of assignments per day and the amount of time each assignment takes to complete, it is impossible for [Safelite] to establish the 50 percent threshold.”

The appeals document says that the main job duties of Safelite technicians are to service the company’s existing customers, install auto glass, and cultivate new business, and that the company says Perez performed seven jobs per day on average, and that other employees performed 3.6 jobs per day and that each job took 60 to 90 minutes to complete, with no jobs being completed between 12 and 12:30 p.m.

“As such, according to defendant, Mobile Pros spend approximately 4.1 hours to 5.9 hours repairing vehicles and eating lunch with additional time added in for traveling from location to location,” writes the plaintiff. “ … By defendant’s own testimony, it would be impossible for Mobile Pros to spend more than half their time ‘cultivating new business.’”
Perez further argues that without class certification, his “individual claims … [are] too small to justify the costs of litigation.”

Perez is represented by the law firm of Kingsley and Kingsley APC in Encino, Calif. At press time, the court had not yet responded to the petition for leave to appeal.

Safelite spokesperson Melina Metzger declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.

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