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Last Post 08/24/2011 5:35 PM by  CatAdjusterX
Class of BP Oil Spill Claims Adjusters Wants Back Wages and Overtime Pay
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host
CatAdjuster.org Founder
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02/09/2011 4:03 PM

    NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A class of more than 1,000 oil spill claims adjusters say they worked more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay for BP and Worley Catastrophe Response. Lead plaintiff John Altier sued on behalf of an estimated class of 1,300, who were hired to research and pay claims to victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

    Altier says that he and the class "were paid at a daily rate of pay. Plaintiff, and all other similarly situated claims adjusters were specifically paid the daily rate of pay for a 12-hour day. Based on that rate of pay, the plaintiff's hourly wage was $68.75 per hour."

    He says that he and the class "worked significantly more than 40 hours in most workweeks." He adds that they were not supervisors nor administrators, were not paid "on a salary basis," and were not exempt from overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    However, he says, "defendants never paid plaintiff, or any other similarly situated claims adjusters any overtime, at time-and-a-half their regular rate of pay."

    The above is a quote from an article on courthousenews.com, http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/.../34026.htm

    johnpostava
    SIMSOL.com
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    02/09/2011 10:33 PM

    I find it difficult to belielve the "defendant' vendor, a well-known catastrophe adjusting firm in our industry, did not pay over 1,000 adjusters for their hard work.  This case will not be played out on this forum (or any other I can think of) and we will only hear the other side in court documents.  Like many other class actions, only the lawyers win out at the end of the day.  I only pray that when the TRUTH comes to light, either those adjusters find their short-sightedness a learning experience or"he who owes" ante's up!

    ALANJ
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    02/10/2011 11:31 AM
    Wage and hour stuff is strictly Federal. Even the legal fees are determined by statute. We gotta watch this one and see what happens. This could change the entire industry and how we get paid.
    Goldust
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    02/10/2011 11:42 AM

    what a mess. I always figured you worked for what you hired on at. I have a hard time believing a good company like Worley who has been around for a long time Would do as they say they are . This could really bite these adjusters in the ARSS!

    JERRY TAYLOR
    the floodman
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    02/10/2011 12:04 PM
    Wow...I've been doing this for a while now and it is made clear that when working for a day rate, you make the day rate. This isn't an hourly position, it's a well defined (typically) agreement. You will work these hours for this amount per day. The last I heard, the day rate for this project was $450 per day plus a $100 per diem; the hours were to be 7AM to 7PM, 7 days per week...what we have here is a couple of people that haven't done this sort of thing before, an attorney who sees a chance to make a large amount of cash and an IA Firm that apparently did a bit of gouging.

    If the IA firm was not honest about the rate THEY were being paid for each "adjuster"/work day and the day rate was not the 65% promised, yes, there are grounds for some sort of action, but to expect a company to pay overtime in additon to the agreed dayrate goes counter to how dayrate agreements have worked in the past. I am not taking the side of the IA firm, but I am saying fair is fair; it is incumbent upon the IA firm to have something in place to make up for for excess hours. If nothing was in place then the contractor was within his rights to leave after his 12 hour shift was over and the IA firm would have no recourse; if they weren't prepared to deal with excess hours then no excess hours should have been worked (or requested). We all know that the management team would have had some hard feelings about adjusters not working the hours they requested (in addition to the agreed workday) and those that they singled out might have made the "cut lists" when they came out, and there is where some action might have been reasonable.

    As for this being a well known Catastrophe Company, yes, you're right, but they are as notorious as they are well known; I'll not say anything bad about them myself (having never worked for them) but I would daresay that if you asked 25 adjusters that have worked for them, close to half would have some rather pointed things to say about how they deal with carriers, insureds and certainly their field staff
    the floodman
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    02/10/2011 12:08 PM
    Alan, you're right...this thing could change the way those of us who contract as branch assist people get paid, it could certainly adversely effect the number of companies that actually provide branch assist services for the carriers and yes, it will definitely change how we do business, if only to make people a lot more cautious about who they wrok for and what they sign by way of contractual agreements.
    the floodman
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    02/10/2011 12:19 PM
    Posted By Montana Goldust on 10 Feb 2011 11:42 AM

    WELL THE FIGURES MADE ME A LITTLE CURIOUS. MY CALCULATOR SAYS 12 HOURS PER DAY TIMES $68.75 EQUALS $825 PER DAY. FARTHER DOWN IN THE ARTICLE IT SAYS THEY ONLY RECEIVED  $550 A DAY.  MAYBE I DIDN'T READ IT CORRECTLY BUT THESE FIGURES ARE JUMPING AROUND AN AWFUL LOT. IF YOU TAKE THE 17% HE SAYS THEY WERE SHORTED PER DAY THAT WOULD AMOUNT TO $140.28.

    if they were to be paid 65% of the $825 , That comes out pretty close to what they say they were paid. I would like to know if they signed a contractural agreement for the amount talked about...

     

    The agreement was $450/day and an additional $100/day per diem if you lived more than (I may be wrong) 50 miles from the office you were assigned to work. The $68.75 sounds like base rate to me, and given the nature of these claims (primarily BI) that sounds reasonable; once the claims started coming in they got more and more complicated (a lot of these claimants ran cash businesses and under-reported their incomes for tax purposes) but if you agree to work BI claims for X dollars a day, then you work BI claims for X dollars a day; again, if that day is defined as 12 hours, then it's 12 hours 

    WILLIS
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    02/10/2011 1:02 PM

    To Roy and John    The BP adjusters signed an agreement to work 12 hours per day 7 days a week for a flat rate + expenses.  Now they complain they are entitled to more compensation for working over 40 hrs per week.  You do the math 12 hrs / day X 7 days is 84 hrs  clearly more than 40,  but they agreed to the rate when they took the job.  Unfortunately, adjusters do not have a union bargaining clause;  even so,   would discount the courts awarding more than a signed contract agreement.  I am sure this class was created by greedy plt lawyers  why not everyone else sues  Maybe we should apply to Feinberg for some work as it looks like 1,300 adjusters might be out of work.

    ChuckDeaton
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    02/10/2011 2:40 PM

    Federal law is federal law and a valid contract has to be legal.

    Additionally the Worley contract is a contract of adhesion, allegatory in nature, to be construed against the writer.

    Plus Louisiana has interesting labor laws.

    Based on personal observation my best guess is that Worley is on the hook here.

    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    followapc
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    02/10/2011 3:15 PM

    If Worley is on the hook for this wouldn't every insurer also be on the hook for paying adjusters a daily rate which is a very common occurrence.  I may be naive but I would have to believe that companies such as State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, etc., have much smarter people on their legal teams than those that will comment on this story.  It is always understood that when one works on day rate that it is for twelve hours of work.

    Also, it would be very easy for BP and Worley to claim that the first 8 hours of the day were paid at (N) amount of dollars and the last four were paid at (N)x1.5.

    olderthendirt
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    02/10/2011 3:16 PM
    Go back and read up on the wage claim vs Pilot after Northridge. Same old same old and they will probably win.
    Life is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put in it
    ChuckDeaton
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    02/10/2011 4:01 PM
    California and Louisiana are two very different birds. One is based on English common law and the other is based on Napoleonic code.

    This will be interesting.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
    Marcus
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    02/10/2011 10:16 PM

    $550 per day is not bad considering the lack of work out there for many IAs these past couple of years.  However, I am not sure what the customary pay is for these types of claims.  I thought a day rate is just that, a day rate. 

    ALANJ
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    02/11/2011 8:08 AM
    These type of cases have been filed and won all over the country. It's all pretty simple stuff. Federal statutes, if you broke them you pay. Damages and legal fees are all controled by statute. It doesn't matter what the employment contract says. If the contract violates the federal statutes, it goes out the window and is held invalid. I understand they held out taxes etc.. which clearly made them employees. When all the oil spill mess started, I heard that they considered paying by the hour and overtime to equal the daily rate but decided to go with the day rate anyway. (Just a rumor I heard from someone working this mess). This could have all been avoided by doing a little reverse math so the hourly rate with overtime equaled the daily rate.

    If someone wants a project, there is several US Supreme Court cases right on point. Bottom line someone is going to write a very large check. On another note, I saw where Ken is going to put more adjusters on the street to meet with claimants eye to eye. Has anyone be contacted for this work?
    followapc
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    02/11/2011 10:35 AM
    He is just going to reallocate adjusters from the main call center to the local field offices. No new adjusters.
    followapc
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    02/11/2011 10:37 AM
    And if someone could please explain to me, since everyone seems to be a legal expert, why so many companies still use this pay structure if it is against federal statute.
    K ung Fu tzu
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    02/11/2011 1:19 PM
    Posted By olderthendirt on 10 Feb 2011 03:16 PM
    Go back and read up on the wage claim vs Pilot after Northridge. Same old same old and they will probably win.
    I didn't even work the Northridge CAT and received class action status on that wage claim.  I was working the ice storms from the Jan/94 storm at a daily rate on the east coast.  One day around 98 or 99 I got a check in the mail for 4k.  
    ALANJ
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    02/11/2011 1:34 PM
    They still use it because they haven't been called on the carpet about it yet. I'm not a legal expert. However, I'm a small town lawyers who knows other lawyers who have handled cases like this and got 35 mil plus at trial. All it takes is enough ill employees to make it worth while for someone to get their bell rung. I really miss climbing roofs. If I could only learn how to master xm8, I would pull the ladder out of retirement.
    Ray Hall
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    02/11/2011 2:43 PM

    some day some lawyer will file a class action against all the cat. vendors, joint and several and all hell will be created, as many will not have funds and this will kill off the big boys; almost

    Dimechimes
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    02/11/2011 6:35 PM

    Roy, thanks for posting this information. We now have the Complaint docs on both cases uploaded on this blog post:

    http://dimechimes.wordpress.com/201...e-part-ii/

    Visit our Adjusters Information Blog
    www.dimechimes.wordpress.com www.Linkedin.com/in/dimechimesclaimSmentor www.Twitter.com/ClaimSmentor www.ClaimSmentor.com
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