SGS Control Services, Inc. and SGS North America, Inc.

To find out more about the terms of the Settlement, as well as when individuals must have been employed by SGS in order to be a Class Member, go to www.AyersSettlement.com ; or contact the Claims Administrator, The Garden City Group, Inc., by mail at Ayers/Ferry v. SGS, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9260, Dublin, Ohio 43017-4660, or by phone at 1-866-923-0867.

The Claims Administrator, Garden City Group, confirms that settlement checks are being mailed to settlement class member participants on December 9, 2008.

To find out more about the terms…

To find out more about the terms of the Settlement, as well as when individuals must have been employed by SGS in order to be a Class Member, go to www.AyersSettlement.com ; or contact the Claims Administrator, The Garden City Group, Inc., by mail at Ayers/Ferry v. SGS, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9260, Dublin, Ohio 43017-4660, or by phone at 1-866-923-0867.

Status Reports

Posted on Tuesday, September 1 2009 at 10:25am

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has proposed that the oral argument of the Plaintiffs’ appeal regarding attorneys’ fees be held the week of November 2, 2009. The schedule is subject to change. An opinion is typically rendered 3 to 6 months after the oral argument, although it can take substantially longer.

Posted on Tuesday, December 9 2008 at 1:53pm

The Claims Administrator, Garden City Group, confirms that settlement checks are being mailed to settlement class member participants on December 9, 2008.

Posted on Tuesday, December 9 2008 at 11:04am

GARDEN CITY GROUP DID NOT MAIL CHECKS TO THE PLAINTIFFS ON 12/8/08 AS REQUIRED BY THE COURT ORDER. Plaintiffs’ counsel received word at the end of the day that GCG would not be mailing checks out of the funds it was holding in escrow for the plaintiffs. Garden City Group has the funds and the calculations necessary to mail the payments, but it refuses to do so until SGS transfer funds for its tax liability on the payments. SGS has failed to do so. SGS has represented that it will make payments for the employer share of taxes by December 12th at the latest. Plaintiffs are today requesting the Court to take immediate action to bring SGS and Garden City Group into conformance with the prior order and make sure that the funds are mailed immediately.

Posted on Thursday, November 20 2008 at 12:11pm

No appeals that would affect the Settlement Effective Date were filed by November 17, 2008. Therefore, under the terms of Settlement Agreement, the Claims Administrator, Garden City Group, is required to mail settlement payment checks to class members on or before December 8, 2008.

Posted on Tuesday, October 21 2008 at 5:00pm

On October 16, 2008, the Court issued a decision denying the Plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider its refusal to award service payments and its limited award of attorneys’ fees. Under the terms of Settlement Agreement, the Claims Administrator, Garden City Group, will have 20 days from the Settlement Effective Date to mail each class member his or her settlement payment less any applicable taxes. If no appeals are filed, the Settlement Effective Date will be November 17, 2008, and settlement payment checks will then be mailed on December 8, 2008. (If an appeal of the attorneys’ fee award is filed the Settlement Effective Date will not be affected).

To see the Court’s decision denying the motion to reconsider service payments and attorneys’ fees click here (.pdf 145KB).

last edited on Friday, October 31 2008 at 10:00am

Posted on Friday, September 12 2008 at 4:02pm

On September 9, 2008, the Court issued an Order approving the settlement in part. Specifically, the Order approved the settlement payments to the class but not the service payments to the class representatives and the class members that participated in discovery. The Court also denied a significant part of the legal fees. Click here for a copy of the Order. (.pdf 845KB) We will ask the Court to reconsider its ruling with respect to the parts of the Settlement it denied and its ruling on attorneys fees.

At this point, we cannot determine when settlement payments will be made. Settlement payments are to be mailed 51 days after the Court’s final order, if there are no appeals. However, we will not have a final order until the Court rules on the motion to reconsider the September 9 Order.

We will continue to post any and all developments on this website.

Posted on Tuesday, September 2 2008 at 2:14pm

The parties are waiting for the Court to issue an order regarding approval of the settlement. We have had the final fairness hearing before the Court and have submitted a proposed order approving the settlement. We hope to receive the Court’s ruling shortly, but cannot predict or guarantee when. We will post any developments as soon as they arise. If the Court approves the settlement, the judgment will not be final until the 30-day appeal period has run. The settlement agreement provides that the claims administrator will make payments to the class within 20 days after the judgment is final.

Posted on Thursday, July 31 2008 at 12:38pm

At a "final fairness hearing" on July 30, 2008, the Court took the various submissions under advisement. The Court is expected to reach a decision shortly.

Posted on Wednesday, April 9 2008 at 5:06pm

On March 10, 2008, the Court preliminarily approved the Parties’ settlement agreement to resolve the claims of SGS’ Oil, Gas and Chemical, automobile, and agriculture inspectors for 7.25 million dollars in funds. Under the terms of the settlement, class members have until July 8, 2008 to (1) submit a Claim Form indicating they wish to receive a share of the Settlement proceeds; or (2) submit a Request for Exclusion Form indicating they wish to be excluded from the Settlement. Class Members who submit neither form will be bound by the Settlement but will receive no share of the Settlement proceeds. Class Members may also submit comments or objections to the settlement. Notice of the settlement will be mailed to all Class Members on April 9, 2008. Click here to view a copy of the Notice for automobile inspectors (.pdf 47KB) . Click here to view a copy of the Notice for OGC inspectors (.pdf 49KB). Click here to view a copy of the Notice for agricultural inspectors (.pdf 48KB). Individual notices that are being mailed will contain specific information about the minimum amount each class ember may receive in the settlement.

To find out more about the terms of the Settlement, as well as when individuals must have been employed by SGS in order to be a Class Member, go to http://www.AyersSettlement.com or contact the Claims Administrator, The Garden City Group, Inc., by mail at Ayers/Ferry v. SGS, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9260, Dublin, Ohio 43017-4660, or by phone at 1-866-923-0867; or contact Class Counsel, Getman Law Firm, 9 Paradies Lane, New Paltz, New York 12561. To obtain Claim or Request for Exclusion Forms, contact The Garden City Group, Inc., by mail at Ayers/Ferry v. SGS, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9260, Dublin, Ohio 43017-4660, or by phone at 1-866-923-0867. Claim Forms and Exclusion Forms must be submitted to Claims Administrator at Ayers/Ferry v. SGS, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 9260, Dublin, Ohio 43017-4660 no later than July 8, 2008.

Please remember:
4. It is very important that the Claims Administrator has your current contact information, including your current mailing address.5. You must fill out and submit a claim form byJuly 8, 2008 to receive a share of the settlement, even if you are a Plaintiff in the Ayers v. SGS or Ferry v. SGS cases.
6. The Claims Administrator will determine the actual amount that you receive under the settlement. The value of individual claims will not be finalized until 30 days after the Court has granted final approval of the settlement.

last edited on Monday, April 14 2008 at 3:49pm

Posted on Tuesday, March 11 2008 at 5:38pm

On March 10, 2008, Judge Richard M. Berman granted "preliminary" approval to the settlement in this case. Click here to review the Preliminary Approval Order (.pdf 354KB). The Order allows the case to proceed as a class action, designates Getman Law Office as Counsel to the Class, and directs that Notice be issued to all members of the class. This Notice will be mailed by the Claims Administrator in this case within 30 days, advising each member of the class 1) what their rights are in the settlement, 2) the minimum amount that they can expect to receive under the settlement, and 3) how to participate in the settlement if they wish. A copy of the Notice will also be published on this website. At this point SGS inspectors are requested to await Notice before contacting Getman Law Office for information about the settlement. As part of the Order, Judge Berman set a final fairness hearing date of July 30, 2008 at 2:00 pm.

Posted on Friday, January 11 2008 at 5:05pm

The trial for the Ayers v. SGS and Ferry v. SGS cases began as scheduled on October 24, 2007. With strong encouragement from Judge Berman on the first day of the trial, the parties agreed to the terms of a provisional settlement in this case, including who would be covered by the settlement, what claims would be released, and how much money SGS would pay to settle the claims. It was provisionally agreed that the case would be brought as a class action for all SGS OCG, Auto and Agriculture division inspectors who worked in applicable time periods, and that SGS would pay out 7.25 million dollars (plus interest from 12/24/07) in addition to what they had already paid to some inspectors. We are in the process of negotiating a more detailed agreement, which will specify the allocation of the settlement, the form of notice each inspector is to receive and the process leading up to the payout.

Once the full settlement agreement is negotiated, the next step in the process is that Judge Berman will review the settlement to determine if it is fair to all inspectors. To that end, he has scheduled a hearing for preliminary approval of a detailed proposed settlement agreement on January 28, 2008. At that time, the Judge may give the settlement preliminary approval, or he may reject the settlement and/or propose revisions. Preliminary approval is not the same as final approval. Final approval can only be granted after all plaintiffs and class members are given the opportunity to consider and make comments on the settlement.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement (which is not yet approved), 30 days after Judge Berman has granted preliminary approval, the claims administrator (an outside company hired to calculate and administer the class claims) will send notice to all members of the class. Notice will include details about the settlement and inform class members of their rights and options under the settlement. Class members’ rights will include the right to participate in the settlement and be paid, to opt out of the settlement, or to object to the settlement. To participate in the settlement, class members, including Plaintiffs in the Ayers and Ferry actions, will have to fill out and return the claim form.

Although we expect the notice you receive to include as much information on the value of your claim as can be determined, it will not tell you the exact total amount of your claim, which will be determined by the claims administrator after tallying all claims forms and determining each inspector’s share of the fund. (Because the settlement fund will be apportioned between all class members who decide to participate in the settlement, the amount each person is to receive will likely vary depending on how many people participate.)

Under the provisional settlement, class members will have roughly 60 days from the date the claims administrator mails the notice to return their claim form or exclusion form. Class members who do not do either may not receive payment, but may still be bound by the class release. After the 60-day response period has run, the parties will move the Court for final approval of the settlement. Judge Berman will consider the parties motions and any objections to the settlement before ruling on final approval.

Fifty days after the settlement receives final approval (following review by Judge Berman), the class administrator will mail each participating class member his or her share of the settlement.

In light of the many variables still existing, the attorneys are unable to inform any individual exactly how much they will receive under the agreement. The details of the settlement can only be communicated through a notice approved by the Court and sent out by the claims administrator. This process is not quick, but it is mandated by the complex interplay of federal class action rules, wage and hour laws, and the U.S. Constitution.

Please remember:
1. It is very important that we have your current contact information, including your current mailing address.2. You must fill out and submit a claim form within the 60-day period to receive a share of the settlement, even if you are a Plaintiff in the Ayers or Ferry cases.
3. The claims administrator will determine the actual amount that you receive under the settlement. The value of individual claims will not be finalized until 30 days after the Court has granted final approval of the settlement.

last edited on Tuesday, January 15 2008 at 11:41am

Posted on Tuesday, December 11 2007 at 12:23pm

The settlement plan has not yet been provided to the Court for review. Under the terms of the tentative settlement, SGS was to have supplied payroll data to the Getman Law Office in mid-November. Unfortunately, much of that information has yet to be provided. According to SGS, the slow response relates to difficulties in obtaining all the information needed from its payroll service ADP. Plaintiffs expect to receive the necessary data within 1to 2 weeks and to have a tentative settlement to the Court within 2 weeks after the receipt.

Posted on Friday, October 26 2007 at 11:12am

During trial on Wednesday October 24, 2007, the parties reached a tentative settlement agreement to resolve the claims of SGS’ Oil, Gas and Chemical, automobile, and agriculture inspectors for 7.25 million dollars in funds additional to an estimated 1 million dollars already paid to some inspectors. The parties committed to presenting a settlement plan to the Court within 45 days. In the interim, SGS will be providing data on individual inspectors necessary for calculating individual claims. The specific amounts that will be due to each inspector if the settlement is approved will not be known until a formula for allocation is tentatively approved by the Court (no earlier than December 10, 2007). If the Court preliminarily approves a settlement with plan for allocation, a personal notice will be sent to each employee explaining the terms of the settlement applicable to them. Due to the procedural requirements for the Court’s and all parties’ approval, the payout to members of the class will not take place until mid-2008. Members of the class who have not provided us with their current telephone number and/or email address, should promptly provide this information using the "Information Request" form below.

last edited on Friday, October 26 2007 at 11:25am

Posted on Thursday, October 11 2007 at 10:59am

Another important ruling has been issued in the consolidated Ayers and Ferry v. SGS cases. By Decision and Order dated October 10, 2007, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis struck 5 of defendants’ trial witnesses from participating in this case because the defendants failed to disclose them earlier. The witnesses are former in-house counsel Lisa Colchete, Chris Thuneman (Sr. VP or OGC), Mabel Coba (Payroll Manager), outside counsel Colin Page and Patrick McCarthy and Joseph DeBord. In addition, the Court directed defendants to immediately supply to plaintiffs documents concerning SGS’ communications with its attorneys, items that SGS failed to disclose for several years, and thereafter claimed were privileged under the attorney-client privilege doctrine.

Posted on Wednesday, October 10 2007 at 10:12am

ON 10/9/07 JUDGE BERMAN RULED THAT THE TIME AND ONE HALF METHOD OF CALCULATING BACK PAY MUST BE USED FOR ALL INSPECTORS WHO WERE NOT PAID IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE FLUCTUATING WORK WEEK.

Judge Berman has set a further settlement conference before the Court for October 18, 2007, just prior to the commencement of trial which is scheduled for October 24, 2007.

Posted on Monday, September 17 2007 at 4:48pm

This case is entering the final stages before trial. The parties are required to lay out their case for the court in what is called a Joint Pre-Trial Order on September 24th. In that document, each side identifies all the exhibits and all the testimony that it will use in its case. Judge Berman has already ruled that the plaintiffs have shown that SGS’s "Chinese Overtime" policy through April 2007 was illegal. Also, the Court ruled that the "Pay For Performance" plan was illegal too. The plaintiffs will argue some additional grounds for the illegality of the "Chinese Overtime" system, namely that salaries were set too low to guarantee the minimum wage for each hours of work. Even though the Court already addressed Chinese Overtime, this additional ground is important, should SGS appeal the decision. Plaintiffs also will expect to show the Court that the late payment of overtime prior to June 2006 was illegal. We argue that the later change SGS made shows that it was always practicable to make the timely payment. The biggest area of dispute is what method of damages the Court must use for OGC plaintiffs. Plaintiffs argue that SGS’s violation of the "fluctuating work week" requirements 29 CFR 778.114, mean that the Court must use the time and one half method. SGS argues that it must only pay back a small sum of money to bring its policies into retroactive compliance with the fluctuating work week method. SGS also argues that its violations of law were "in good faith."

Over the last month, there have been a flurry of motions on both sides, as well as numerous days of final depositions. Plaintiffs have numerous letter briefs to the court alleging that SGS has withheld information it was obligated to turn over. For example, on September 11, 2007, years after it was obligated to do so, SGS supplied a "Privilege Log" identifying 85 communications with lawyers it had concerning the FLSA. Up to that point, SGS had claimed only a few letters existed at all. Plaintiffs argue that the failure to disclose the communications requires that they be turned over.

SGS had asked for approximately 40 last minute all-day depositions of the opt-in plaintiffs in the Ferry case. Judge Berman allowed 6 depositions only, and limited them to 2 hours apiece. These depositions will take place on September 19 and 20 in Houston and Florham Park, NJ.

The trial commences on October 24th. We look forward to showing the full extent of SGS’s violations of law and hope to get the full measure of relief allowed by law.

last edited on Monday, September 17 2007 at 4:49pm

Posted on Friday, August 10 2007 at 5:21pm

The parties engaged in a formal mediation on August 2. Despite the Plaintiffs best efforts, no progress was made with respect to settling the case. The trial is scheduled to begin on October 24 of this year.

Posted on Wednesday, June 20 2007 at 4:06pm

The mediation in this case has been postponed until August 2, 2007. The mediator will be Michael Young of JAMS mediation service in New York City.

Posted on Tuesday, May 15 2007 at 2:47pm

Judge Berman has granted the plaintiffs request to set the case for an early a trial date. On May 14, 2007, the parties appeared before the Court and Judge Berman set trial for October 22, 2007. The Court indicated that no more than 3 days would be required for the trial. The trial will cover both the Ayers v SGS case as well as the Ferry v SGS case. Judge Berman has already ruled that the SGS fluctuating work week pay scheme violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. The plaintiffs believe that the law in this district and circuit, compels the Court to find that the plaintiffs are entitled to receive time and one half for each hour of overtime, not half-time. Defendant argues that the half time method should still be used to calculate damages. SGS lost this argument in a prior case in District Court in Florida, however. In addition to the question of which method is used to calculate damages, the trial should cover whether there are damages due for the late payment of overtime, how much is due to auto inspectors under the pay for performance plan, and whether SGS acted in "good faith" in paying as it did, thereby preventing the Court from awarding "liquidated damages" equal to the amount of back pay due to each plaintiff. The plaintiffs are very pleased that this matter is nearing closer to the entry of a final judgment. In addition, the parties will be conducting a mediation session with a private mediator in late June in an attempt to reach a settlement.

Posted on Wednesday, April 4 2007 at 9:53am

Our last update indicated that the Parties would appear before Judge Berman on March 21, 2007. SGS postponed that date. Instead, we appeared before Judge Berman on Monday, April 2, 2007. At the hearing, we addressed various issues, but most of the discussion was dedicated to the language of the notice of the opportunity to join the Ferry v. SGS case that will go to all OGC inspectors who worked for SGS in the past 3 years. Once we resolved the notice issues, SGS offered to engage a neutral, mutually acceptable mediator to help with settlement discussions. We agreed to participate in the mediation, and the Parties agreed to complete it by May 11. Judge Berman scheduled another conference for Monday, May 14.

Posted on Monday, February 26 2007 at 9:54pm

On February 26, 2007, the Plaintiffs won a substantial victory in this case. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman issued a decision ruling that SGS’s "Chinese Overtime" method of paying OGC inspectors overtime, and its "Pay-for-Performance" method of paying Auto Inspectors overtime are impermissible violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Judge did not rule on the issue of whether SGS paid inspectors overtime wages impermissibly late. That issue will be decided at trial, if necessary. The Judge denied SGS’ request to break up the class and force everyone to bring individual cases. (Although the Judge allowed the Plaintiffs to proceed as a class, he ruled that claims for overtime hours worked but not recorded cannot be part of this collective action because those claims did not involve company-wide polices. Plaintiffs who want to pursue those claims will have to do so in a separate action.) The Judge also denied all of SGS’ requests for summary judgment on individual issues. Click here to read the Decision (.pdf 1MB).

This decision significantly narrows SGS’ options, and we expect it will move the Parties much closer to a final resolution–but the case is not over. SGS’ liability is clear, but the Court did not specify how the damages are to be calculated and it did not order SGS to pay anything yet. Instead, the Court ordered the parties to "engage in good faith settlement negotiations" before March 21, 2007.

It is important to note that only those people who have joined the action will benefit from the case. OGC inspectors who are not yet part of the overtime litigation against SGS can join the Ferry v. SGS case by filling out the Consent to Sue form posted on our website. See the notes under the Ferry v. SGS case in our Current Cases section of this website.

last edited on Tuesday, February 27 2007 at 2:32pm

Posted on Tuesday, February 20 2007 at 9:26am

The Court heard argument on the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ pending motions. Judge Berman said he expected to have a decision within a week or so.

Posted on Thursday, February 8 2007 at 4:46pm

On February 15, 2007 at 10 a.m., Judge Berman will hold oral argument on the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment (declaring the delayed receipt of overtime illegal, declaring the defendant’s "chinese overtime" system illegal, and declaring that the defendant illegally paid auto inspectors a lower rate for hours over 40 than for the non-overtime hours). The Court will also hear argument about the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the motion to "decertify" the collective action. The argument is open to the public and to the plaintiffs in the case.

Posted on Tuesday, September 19 2006 at 11:28am

OGC inspectors who did not join this litigation may be eligible to bring their claims against SGS in the Ferry v. SGS case, also brought by Getman Law Office. Please go to the description of that case on this website for information about that case or for instructions on how to join.

Posted on Wednesday, November 22 2006 at 10:46am

Judge Berman held argument on the interrelationship between the Ayers v. SGS case and the Ferry v. SGS case on December 5, 2006. That argument resulted in an agreement between the parties that the Court’s rulings in Ayers will bind the plaintiffs in Ferry as well.

last edited on Thursday, February 8 2007 at 4:43pm

Posted on Tuesday, September 19 2006 at 11:26am

The plaintiffs have moved to have the Court declare SGS’s payroll practices to be illegal "as a matter of law." Plaintiffs ask the Court to rule 3 aspects of SGS’s pay practices illegal. First, plaintiffs say that the delayed payment of overtime to inspectors violates the Fair Labor Standards Act. Second, OGC plaintiffs claim that what SGS called "Chinese Overtime" was unlawful. Plaintiffs claim that SGS failed to follow the strict requirements that are necessary before a company can use the half-time overtime pay method. Specifically, SGS failed to pay a fixed regular rate (paying sea-pay, day-off pay, and minimum wage bump ups), failed to set salaries high enough to ensure that the minimum wage was covered no matter how many hours an employee could foreseeably work, failed to pay overtime premium pay on all regular rate earnings, and failed to reach an understanding with all inspectors to pay overtime on a fixed regular rate. Third, Auto inspectors claim that SGS paid a higher commission rate for work in the first forty hours than it did for work in overtime hours. SGS offered no response to this aspect of plaintiff’s motion.

The defendants have asked the Court to decertify this action claiming that the plaintiffs are not "similarly situated" and thus cannot be heard all together in this forum. Plaintiffs contend that SGS’s late payment as to all inspectors renders them "similarly situated" and thus that the case can go forward for all in the same proceeding.

Both matters are fully briefed and now await Judge Berman’s decision. There is no set time by which a decision will be reached. Judges typically take between 3 and 9 months to render such decisions, but there is no guarantee of when a decision will be reached on these motions.

last edited on Thursday, October 12 2006 at 10:53am

Posted on Monday, August 7 2006 at 10:06am

The parties in this case have begun the briefing for the ultimate resolution of this case by Judge Berman. SGS has moved to "decertify" the collective action, arguing that the plaintiffs are not sufficiently similarly situated to justify the case being heard for everyone in one action. Plaintiffs have moved for partial summary judgment, asking the judge to declare that the SGS pay practices are illegal. To review the full plaintiffs’ brief on summary judgment, click here: Plaintiffs’ Summary Judgment Brief (.pdf 3MB). In the brief, the plaintiffs argue that SGS’s delayed payment of overtime violates the FLSA. Plaintiffs also argue that the fluctuating work week method of overtime pay violates the law and that SGS’s payment of lower commission rates for work after forty hours for auto inspectors violates the FLSA. Plaintiffs also respond to defendants’ motion to decertify.

last edited on Monday, August 7 2006 at 10:19am

Posted on Friday, May 5 2006 at 10:58am

The discovery phase of the case is nearly complete. Judge Ronald Ellis set May 2nd as the close of discovery. Discovery is the part of a lawsuit during which both sides gather information from the other, exchanging documents, taking depositions, issuing subpoenas to third parties, etc. In the months leading up to discovery a flurry of activity took place. Judge Ellis allowed each side 15 depositions. Plaintiffs took depositions of the company, certain corporate officials and numerous SGS supervisors concerning the pay and hours practices of the company. Plaintiffs have now deposed the company itself, ADP payroll service, Stephen Bloom, Gia Plewa, Kyle Lee, Robert Peterson, Luigi DeBalsamo, Alan Tattersfield, and Jason Soriano among others. Defendants deposed Richard Ayers, Frederick Anthony Broussard, Edgar Chacon, Jeffrey Lewis, Noe Nodalo, Charles Weed, Sherri Roberts, William Venable, Lowell Lewis, Robert Kraemer, Jeffrey Young, Stuart Myers, Michael Morvilius, and Randy Holman. (All the plaintiffs in this case owe a great debt to those individual plaintiffs who stepped forward to give videotaped deposition testimony on behalf of the entire group). In person depositions occurred in Houston, Baton Rouge, Jacksonville, FL., Fort Wayne, IN, St. Louis, New York City, Seattle, and Santa Monica, CA. The flurry of depositions and document production led to a highly contentious period of dispute between the parties, requiring scores of letters to Magistrate Judge Ellis and also to Judge Richard Berman, the trial Judge. Judge Ellis set May 2nd as the cut-off for all discovery, although in fact, he has permitted additional discovery of certain witnesses and the production by ADP of actual payroll in digital, manipulable form, so that the parties can calculate the damages due to each of the plaintiffs in this case. After the ADP records have been subjected to back pay calculations, plaintiffs expect that serious settlement discussions will ensue.

Now that the discovery phase is nearly complete, the parties will begin briefing their respective positions on summary judgment to Judge Berman. Summary judgment is the process by which the Court can rule in any party’s favor, where the facts are not in dispute, without the necessity for a trial. Plaintiffs will argue that the fluctuating work week method was illegally applied for OGC inspectors and that inspectors are due time and one half, that Auto inspectors paid under the Pay For Performance incentive program were paid improperly by being paid a lower rate for hours after 40 than for the hours before. Further, plaintiffs claim that all inspectors were subjected to delayed payment for their overtime pay in violation of the FLSA and all inspectors worked hours for which they were not compensated. Not all issues which exist in the case can be decided on summary judgment. Defendants have stated that they will ask the Court to sever the claims of inspectors, arguing that the claims were impermissibly joined together. At a conference on May 2nd, 2006, Judge Berman set the following briefing schedule: defendants’ motion papers due 6/16/06, plaintiffs’ response and plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment due 7/14/06, defendants’ reply due by 7/28/06 and plaintiffs’ Sur-reply 8/11/06.

last edited on Monday, May 8 2006 at 12:50pm

Posted on Friday, April 7 2006 at 4:34pm

The plaintiffs have requested (as required by Judge Berman’s personal rules) permission to allow the plaintiffs to move for judgment as a matter of law. The rules permit such motions on issues as to which there is no dispute as to the facts. Although certain aspects of the case are disputed by defendants, there are significant issues of law as to which plaintiffs believe the law is clear and the defendants have no valid defense. Click here to review the Letter to Judge Berman (.pdf 67KB) which sets forth the bases for the motion.

Posted on Monday, February 13 2006 at 9:35am

Although individuals who have not yet joined this action may not be allowed to join the case at this point, Getman Law Office continues to believe that OGC inspectors have valid claims for the improper use of what the company calls "Chinese Overtime" (also known as the fluctuating work week method of paying overtime) and that all inspectors have claims for the late payment of overtime. Inspectors who have not yet joined the case are urged to contact Getman Law Office for possible representation.

Posted on Thursday, December 29 2005 at 4:57pm

Individuals who worked for SGS on a "fluctuating work week" basis should be advised that a Court has recently found that SGS could not permissibly use the fluctuating work week method of payment for overtime! This decision was later vacated by SGS’s reaching a private settlement with the plaintiff in that case.

last edited on Monday, February 13 2006 at 9:13am

Posted on Friday, June 24 2005 at 2:34pm

The Parties have had repeated disputes over the Defendants’ slow production of documents and other information. In response to a request for judicial intervention, the Parties agreed to a strict and fast discovery schedule. In endorsing the schedule in the attached Order, Magistrate Judge Ellis warned that any deviance from the schedule may subject the Defendants to sanctions. Click here to review the Order (.pdf 104KB).

Posted on Friday, March 11 2005 at 12:06pm

All consents to sue must be postmarked or faxed to Getman Law Office no later than March 21st to ensure being part of this case.

Posted on Tuesday, February 1 2005 at 10:42am

As of March 11, 2005 there are currently one hundred and eighty individuals who have filed the Consent to Sue form to be plaintiffs in this case.

last edited on Friday, March 11 2005 at 12:04pm

Posted on Thursday, January 27 2005 at 10:33am

The plaintiffs win again! Defendants asked the District Judge to reverse the Order of U.S. Magistrate Ronald Ellis concerning the notice to the class. On January 26, 2005, Judge Berman denied SGS’s motion and affirmed the prior decision of Judge Ellis concerning notice and including employees of subsidiaries in the case. Click here to see the Order (.pdf 130KB).

Posted on Monday, January 17 2005 at 4:15pm

The plaintiffs have begun mailing the Collective Action Notice to all potential members of the class who are eligible to join the case. Click here to review the Collective Action Notice. (.pdf 188KB) At the back of the notice is the Consent to Sue Form by which an eligible class member may join the case.

Posted on Thursday, December 23 2004 at 4:26pm

After defendants requested Judge Berman (the trial Judge)to reverse the decision of Judge Ellis granting collective action status to the case, defendants again moved Judge Ellis to rescind his prior order. On December 16, 2004, Judge Ellis denied the defendants request in all respects. To see a copy of Judge Ellis’s decision, click here. Decision of the Judge (.pdf 689KB). Further, Judge Ellis indicated in strong terms the basis for the plaintiff’s claims in this case and that notice to all individuals who may have been harmed by SGS’s improper pay practices should be sent out forthwith. The defendants are now required to provide names and addresses of SGS employees and the plaintiffs will be sending a notice to all such individuals shortly.

Posted on Friday, October 15 2004 at 12:00pm

By Order of Judge Ronald Ellis dated October 13, 2004, the Court has directed defendant SGS North America and SGS Control Services, Inc. to supply the names and addresses of class members by October 22nd in order for plaintiffs’ counsel to mail the class notice to them. The notice will supply information on how individuals can join the case.

Posted on Thursday, October 21 2004 at 9:13am

Below are Answers to Common Questions About Joining the Case

What claims are covered in this lawsuit?

The lawsuit only covers claims for overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The specific violations claimed are 1) that the SGS North America fails to pay overtime to employees at the same time that they are paid their regular wages; 2) that SGS North America fails to pay overtime on all wages; 3) That the company impermissibly uses the "fluctuating work week" method of paying overtime to oil and gas inspectors. Any failure to pay overtime wages as required by law are included in the case. For instance, individuals who are made to do work "off the clock" would also have overtime claims covered by the case.

What damages are sought?

Under the overtime law, back pay and an equal amount of liquidated damages are claimed for each violation. On the late payment of overtime claim, employees can collect liquidated damages, which would be equal to the total amount of overtime premium pay received during employment within the period of the "statute of limitation" (see below for an explanation of the "statute of limitation").

Are claims against subsidiaries of SGS North America covered?

Yes, inspectors working at SGS subsidiaries are covered. The lawsuit charges that SGS North America (as the company that administers employee pay for all subsidiaries) with the violations of federal overtime law.

How far back can claims be made?

You are entitled to claims for the period extending back three years from the date your Consent To Sue Form is filed in Court. The defendant will be entitled to argue that its violations were not wilful and that it claims should only be limited to a two year period preceding the filing of your Consent To Sue Form. This two or three year period is called the "statute of limitation."

What if I have other overtime or minimum wage claims?

This lawsuit does cover claims such as being made to work off the clock or being wrongly treated as exempt from overtime. If you believe that you have such claims, you should contact the Getman Law Office. This case only covers employment by SGS North America and its subsidiaries. It does not cover other employers.

Do I have to pay to join the case?

No. The attorneys are handling this case on a contingent basis and will only be paid out of a settlement or final judgment. When plaintiffs win an overtime case, the defendant must pay the plaintiffs’ costs and attorneys fees.

Can I wait to file my Consent To Sue Form?

You are not part of the case until your Consent to Sue Form is returned to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and then filed with the Court. If you delay in filing the Consent to Sue Form, part or all of your claim may be barred by the "statute of limitation." If you do not return the form within 60 days of the date on the collective action notice, the Court may not allow you to join this case.

Can SGS fire me or take action against me for joining the lawsuit?

The law prohibits retaliation for joining an overtime lawsuit. SGS recognizes that it is not allowed to retaliate against any employee for joining the case. If any employee suffered retaliation, SGS would be liable for double the injury caused to the employee. Notify us immediately if any retaliation occurs.

What locations are covered by this lawsuit?

Past and present employees from every SGS worksite nationwide in the U.S.A. may be included in this lawsuit.

last edited on Thursday, January 27 2005 at 10:49am

Posted on Tuesday, October 12 2004 at 3:35pm

On October 9, 2004 U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis directed that a notice be mailed to all potential class members advising them that they can join the case by filing a "consent to sue" form. All inspectors for either SGS Control Services, Inc. or any subsidiary of SGS North America, Inc. will be allowed to join the case. There are presently thirteen such plaintiffs. Previously, defendants had argued to Judge Ellis that no notice should be sent. Defendants argued that the notice would be "disruptive" and that there is no proper class. Judge Ellis denied defendants’ request that no notice be allowed. Defendants then requested U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to stay the mailing of notice. This request was also denied. Notice will be mailed when defendants provide the names and addresses of the relevant inspectors for a 3 year period.

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