The labor union Unite Here has started a Web site to provide information about the progress of a class-action lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers over the firm's overtime policies.

The site, www.OverworkedAtPwC.info, monitors the lawsuit, which recently gained class-action status in California. "It serves as a site for people in the accounting industry who want information about the lawsuit and who want employment information about all the Big Four firms, not just PricewaterhouseCoopers, and provides a place for PricewaterhouseCoopers employees to find out about the lawsuit," said Caitlin Prendiville, a researcher with Unite Here.

The union is not a party to the California lawsuit, but the site also contains information about the union's own dispute with Aramark, a cafeteria operator that provides food services for PwC in New York. The union accuses Aramark of disciplining workers at the PwC cafeteria after a union petition circulated there.

PwC is the first Big Four firm to become the target of a class-certified wage-and-hour case in the U.S. “We became aware today that a labor union called Unite Here has put up a Web site for the apparent purpose of commenting on a litigation pending in the California courts in which it is uninvolved,” said PwC spokesman David Nestor. “The lawsuit involves allegations relating to the classification of employees under applicable wage-and-hour laws. PwC believes that the firm’s employees are properly classified under these laws and therefore believes the case is without merit.”

The case could have widespread implications for PwC and other major firms.  PwC has denied that it is breaking federal wage-and-hour laws, but recently announced a redress plan of its overtime policies in Canada after a similar class-action lawsuit against KPMG (see PwC to Pay Retroactive Overtime in Canada).

On March 25, 2008, Judge Lawrence K. Karlton of California's Eastern District Court granted class certification to the case. The plaintiffs, a group of former PwC associates, filed the lawsuit against the firm for allegedly misclassifying certain employees as exempt from receiving overtime pay. The suit, filed on Oct. 27, 2006, covers all associates in PwC's attest division who worked at PwC offices in California between Oct. 27, 2002 and the present.  "Similar cases are popping up in other states," said Prendiville.

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