Daily Labor Report®

CenturyLink Can’t Move Unpaid Overtime Case to Louisiana

Dec. 17, 2018, 9:27 PM

CenturyLink Inc. can’t get rid of a Montana case alleging it misclassified employees to avoid paying them overtime, a federal judge said Dec. 14.

The telecommunications firm asked the judge to either transfer the class action to Louisiana, where CenturyLink is headquartered, or dismiss it entirely, according to Judge Brian Morris’ order. But moving the case from the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana would just make the forum inconvenient for the employees instead of their employer, the order said.

CenturyLink said the court shouldn’t defer to the named plaintiff’s forum choice because he doesn’t live in Montana anymore. But he lived and worked in the state when CenturyLink allegedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying him as exempt so it wouldn’t have to pay him for extra work hours, the order said.

The company also said Montana was inconvenient for employee witnesses because they didn’t live there. But few of the witnesses live in Louisiana, either, so a move wouldn’t actually make things more convenient for them, the order said.

Courts shouldn’t transfer suits where doing so would only shift the inconvenience from some witnesses and parties to others, Morris said.

Holland & Hart LLP and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. represented CenturyLink. Montana-based Philip L. McGrady, Kansas-based Rowdy B. Meeks, and Missouri-based Davis George Mook LLC represented the employee class.

The case is Seiffert v. Qwest Corp., 2018 BL 464758, D. Mont., No. CV-18-70-GF-BMM, 12/14/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Bennett in Washington at jbennett@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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