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Court Orders Sprint to Produce Electronic Database in Unpaid Overtime Class Action


The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to maintain full and accurate records of all hours worked by their employees, as well as all wages earned by and paid to those employees. This is required so that, in the event that an employee claims that there is a discrepancy between what they earned and what they were paid, the employer, the employee, and the courts if need be, can refer to these records to determine the validity of the claim. When an employee files a wage and hour lawsuit against their employer, it is common for the court to order the defendant to produce records of the time worked and money earned by and paid to the employee.

It was at the point of producing these records that a recent class action lawsuit against Sprint Nextel Corporation stalled. Rick Harlow, an employee of Sprint’s Business Direct Channel, alleges that the company failed to pay him and other employees commissions which they had earned. The failure to pay the workers allegedly resulted from systematic problems with Sprint’s computer systems.

During the relevant class period, Sprint used two different billing systems to calculate commissions for its Business Direct Channel salespersons. One was P2K, which was decommissioned in 2008, and the other was Ensemble.

In addition to these two databases, Sprint also used two data warehouses, the Nextel Data Warehouse (NDW) and the Nextel Online Repository (NOR). When explaining the function of these data warehouses, Sprint said that, “[NDW and NOR] were databases that were maintained and operated by Sprint. Each database contained, among other things, customer-, purchase-, or service-related data. The databases also contained partial replications of the Ensemble database. … On a daily basis, referential data from approximately seven tables in the NDW database was copied into [the commissions system] for use in the Business Direct commissions process.

When conducting discovery for the class action lawsuit, the plaintiffs requested that Sprint provide the data from its NOR and NDW warehouses as well as its Ensemble database. Sprint refused, arguing that the data contained in the NOR and the NDW were merely duplicates of the information contained in the Ensemble database.
However, the plaintiffs allege that, when the business representatives discovered discrepancies in their pay and submitted an appeal to Sprint, that an analyst would investigate the issue. That analyst would then use data in the NDW and NOR warehouses, not the Ensemble database, to determine whether a claim was valid.
A former IT business consultant for Sprint testified that NDW and NOR contained records which were only partially duplicative of the records found in Ensemble. In some instances, said the consultant, the NOR and the NDW might contain additional information which would not be in Ensemble.

Sprint then argued that the amount of information contained in the NDW and the NOR was too great and that to produce it would be too burdensome. The plaintiffs offered to cooperate with Sprint to reduce the information to a manageable amount.
The plaintiffs convinced the court that the NDW and the NOR data was only partially duplicative of what is found in Ensemble and that the NDW and the NOR might contain information not contained in the Ensemble database. The court also ruled that the amount of information contained in the NOR and the NDW was not too large to manage. The court therefore granted the plaintiffs’ motion to order Sprint to provide the information stored in the NOR and the NDW.

You can view the opinion here.

The Chicago class action and employment law lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by large corporations such as Sprint, AT&T and Verizon for misclassifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Park Ridge and Des Plaines. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Rolling Meadows and Naperville overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.