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Deloitte Employees Denied Recertification In Overtime Claim

SAN FRANCISCO — Unlicensed accountants and audit employees for Deloitte & Touche LLP were denied class recertification in the Ninth Circuit earlier this month. The three-judge panel refused the plaintiffs’ request to reverse the lower court’s decision decertifying the group based on a lack of common issues. The panel found the district court judge’s ruling was supported by evidence and the accountants and auditors could not continue as a class action.

The Deloitte Employee Claim

The accountants in the class action claimed they were wrongfully classified as exempt from overtime laws. They claimed their duties did not reach a level necessary for exemption because their duties were not management related. Additionally, the auditors and the accountants claimed both positions and the employees in those positions had minimal training requirements and certifications, although both positions require the employee be ready to sit for the Certified Professional Accounting (CPA) exam. These facts, they believed, gave the accountants and auditors a common issue for class certification, and were evidence that neither position should be exempt from overtime. However, the lower court determined the accountants were not exempt under the executive exemption, but the professional exemption.

Lower Court Decisions

When the lower court determined the accountants could be exempted under the professional exemption, the court decertified the entire class action, which meant any potential plaintiff would have to proceed with their individual claims separately. The plaintiffs appealed the lower court’s decision claiming the judge abused her discretion when she found the accountants in the proposed class were eligible for the professional exemption and then decertified the whole class.

The lower court judge, after analyzing evidence provided by Deloitte related to the accountants’ work, found the accountants’ level of discretion varied considerably between assignments. An employee’s level of discretion and decision making authority is one of the key factors in both executive and professional exemptions. The court also noted that some accountants primarily handled administrative issues, which could qualify them for the administrative exemption. Since the job responsibilities for each accountant appeared to need individual assessment and seemed to qualify for one of the three exemptions, the lower court, according to the Ninth Circuit, did not err in decertifying the class.

Just because the court decertified this group of Deloitte accountants and auditors, does not mean that other accountants and auditors will have the same result in their case. If you are an accountant or auditor at Deloitte or at another firm and you believe you have been misclassified as exempt from overtime, call our top-rated team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page and our experienced legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, under our No Fee Promise, you will pay no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.

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