Friday, October 26, 2007

PricewaterhouseCoopers - Class Action Law Suit Looms


PricewaterhouseCoopers could be potentially facing a class action law suit for overtime pay...it looks that the Canadian law suit bug may have just slipped over the border.


The fundamental issue claimed against the Big4 is essentially the same - employees supposedly made to work long hours without being paid overtime pay. In this case, Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff (KCR) appears to be investigating a potential class action lawsuit on behalf of these associates against the Big4 accounting firms...

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is not the just the associates at PwC who are getting screwed from unpaid overtime, but also PwC's smaller competitors, who play by the rules and follow the law, suffer from unfair business competition.

In addition to the pending unpaid PwC lawsuit in California, according to www.cfo.com/article.cfm/10047863, Deloitte & Touche has been hit with an unpaid overtime lawsuit in California.

Furthermore, there is a pending unpaid overtime lawsuit in California against Ernst & Young (www.eylawsuit.com).

Also the cover story ("Wage Wars") of the October 1, 2007 issue of BusinessWeek discusses how unpaid overtime lawsuits are not isolated events and profiles the attorney, Mark Thierman, who has brought suit against Ernst & Young and other large employers: www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_40/b4052001.htm.

In fact, a separate section of the BusinessWeek cover story gives specific examples of pending lawsuits including the one against Ernst & Young (www.eylawsuit.com): www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_40/b4052004.htm.

Anonymous said...

There is also www.big4lawsuit.com.

Pro Big Four and Pro Working For A Living said...

You work at a Big Four firm to continue your education outside of school. No one forces you to work long hours; one chooses to work hard, learn accounting, and if one chooses to leave they normally have more opportunity in the field than someone who did not embark on the public accounting track. If it is that bad then get a job some place else. Big Four tends to recruit from an upper tier of graduates so if you were able to get a job with a Big Four firm you should not have a problem getting a job with a company that will pay you more initially, require you to work less hours, and oh yeah...in five years they might even promote you. Also, you only require a CPA to sign off on financial statements; as long as someone on an engagement is licensed where the company files their financial records you are considered an associate on the engagement, which seems to make you a professional and exempt from receiving OT. Seems like just another law firm trying to go after companies with big pockets seeking their high availability for exposure.

pro labour law yet pro working for a living said...

It's just not PwC in California, but also KPMG Canada is facing an unpaid overtime lawsuit in the province of Ontario. (See http://money.canoe.ca/News/Other/2007/09/04/4469563-cp.html). As for pending unpaid overtime lawsuits in California, the other Big 4 firms (Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche, and KPMG)(in addition to BDO Seidman) have been hit with overtime lawsuits. (See http://masshightech.bizjournals.com/masshightech/othercities/sacramento/stories/2007/12/10/story4.html?b=1197262800%5E1561129# for article)

In regards to comments of "pro big four," according to the 2002 Update of the DLSE Enforcement Policies and Interpretations Manual (Revised) (go to page 242 of www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DLSEManual/dlse_enfcmanual.pdf), the California Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) department states that actual job duties determine if one is entitled to unpaid overtime:

54.10.6.2 As with the federal enforcement agency, it has been the experience of the DLSE that some employers erroneously believe that anyone employed in the field of accountancy, engineering, or other professional fields, will qualify for exemption as a professional employee by virtue of such employment. While there are many exempt employees in these fields, the exemption of individual depends upon his or her duties and the other listed criteria.

54.10.6.3 The professional exemption does not extend to and exempt all employees of professional employers, or all employees in industries having large numbers of professional members, or all employees in any particular occupation. Nor does it exempt those learning a profession. (29 CFR § 541.310) Moreover, it does not exempt persons with professional training, who are working in professional fields, but performing subprofessional or routine work.

Anonymous said...

Deloitte Canada has paid out OT for BTA's, Consultants and Senior Consultants who work in the consulting arm in functions such as Strategy and Operations, Finance and Perforamnce Management and Human Capital, but they are not paying out overtime for people in technology.

The kicker with this is that many people in technology are also working in other service lines providing the same service as those being paid overtime, but are not paid overtime.

For one of the top 100 employers, how equitable is that?

Most likely will see more lawsuits

Anonymous said...

Any links to news articles regarding Deloitte Canada paying out overtime?

As for Deloitte & Touche in California, I found www.dtlawsuit.com regarding the pending unpaid overtime lawsuit.

As for the pending unpaid overtime lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers, I read that the judge in that case partially certified a class to proceed.

Anonymous said...

According to the Business Week cover story dated October 1, 2007 (www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_40/b4052004.htm), Ernst & Young LLP is currently facing an unpaid overtime lawsuit (see www.eylawsuit.com as well as www.big4lawsuit.com).

That article states the following: "If someone with an accounting degree is exercising his judgment as a CPA, the professional exemption [from overtime law] applies. But a worker who simply gathers audit data and enters it in a spreadsheet can't--licensed or not--be classified as a professional [who is exempt from overtime]. Litigation pending against Ernst & Young makes overtime claims on behalf of E&Y [salaried] staff [who were paid a salary], including some with professional degrees."

sexy said...
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Anonymous said...

RE: "Pro Big Four and Pro Working For A Living"

To the contrary, during the last 4 months, PwC and other Big 4 firms required all employees to work at least 50 hours per week. Employees were, in fact, "forced" to work overtime.

The pay system and charge system of big 4 accounting (and accounting in general) have mismatched incentives anyway. This lawsuit will be good for Big 4 restructuring.

Charging clients hourly, while paying employees is poor business. Firms should charge clients based upon value-added (except in services where that becomes very difficult). Firms should also pay employees based on productivity.

Since it is in the firm's best interest to increase the number of hours worked while staying under budget, they do not incentivize productivity with employees. In fact, employees are penalized as "underutilized" if they work quickly because the firm no longer gets revenue from clients.

These pay lawsuits could bring a necessary change to the industry, which may create more hours worked for employees, but will also create a more incentive-compatible system that benefits the firm, employees, and businesses seeking their services.