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Wage & Hour – Superior Court of San Diego

Case: Client Service Associate No. 1, et al. v. Morgan Stanley
Court: Superior Court of San Diego
Judge: Richard E. L. Strauss
Date: December 1, 2009
Result: $3,500,000.00

Facts & Allegations

This was a class action filed by three California client service associates (“CSAs”). CSAs assist financial advisors with various things, such as taking all of their calls, sending correspondence on behalf of the financial advisors, placing stock orders, and other types of hyper-procedural tasks. In or around the summer of 2009, Morgan Stanley downsized and eliminated certain CSAs. As a result of downsizing, CSA No. 1 was forced to work with more financial advisors, which dramatically increased her workload.

Pretty soon CSA No. 1 was working through her meal periods, and working unpaid overtime. Morgan Stanley had a policy of requiring pre-authorization before a CSA could work overtime. The person in charge of whether or not to approve overtime routinely left by 3:00 pm each day, which presented a problem. Specifically, the problem was that CSA No. 1, despite her diligent efforts, could not know whether she would need to work overtime until about 4-4:30 pm. She serviced the financial advisors and they were her bosses. However, financial advisers did not have the authority to approve overtime on behalf of Morgan Stanley.

There were also problems with the way the CSAs were told to record their time. Specifically, the CSAs “recorded” their time on an excel spreadsheet. However, they were instructed to recycle the same exact excel spreadsheet. This practice created the inaccurate time records. Further, no matter how many hours that the CSAs worked, their wage statements would always reflect 86.7 hours worked, which is in violation of the California Labor Code.

The parties settled pre-certification.