Mortgage Daily

Published On: April 4, 2007
Option One Sued for OvertimeMelissa Schueler’s lawsuit seeks class action status

April 4, 2007

By LISA D. BURDEN
WASHINGTON correspondent for MortgageDaily.com

Option One Mortgage Corp. is denying allegations that it failed to pay loan originators overtime for a number of years.The H&R Block Inc. subprime mortgage subsidiary is facing a lawsuit by a former loan officer who claims the company failed to pay its loan officers overtime wages.

But an Option One spokeswoman has denied the allegations and said the company pays overtime when employees have been properly authorized to work the extra hours.

Melissa Schueler claimed in her federal court filing that the lender, which has received accolades for its employee-focused culture, knowingly violated federal and state law overtime pay requirements.

Schueler, who worked for the company for four years, is seeking class action status for the legal filing. About 200 loan officers could be affected.

Option One spokeswoman Christine Sullivan told MortgageDaily.com, “The lawsuit has not been served on us. We, however, assume that the class allegations are similar to previous lawsuits brought by Ms. Schueler’s attorneys and which were dismissed by the courts.”

“We properly classify our associates as exempt or non-exempt in accordance with applicable law,” she continued. “Our policy concerning retail sales associates has always been that they are properly classified as non-exempt, and that they are entitled to overtime compensation when they are authorized to work and do work overtime hours.”

H&R Block is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The Oakland, Calif. law firm handling the case, Goldstein, Demchak, did not return calls for comment.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that regulates employer pay practices, requires that employees be paid the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one-half the regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a work week, unless the employee is exempt from overtime pay.

However, overtime does not have to be paid to employees who are properly classified under one of several allowed exemptions. In the lawsuit, Schueler’s claims that neither the outside sales nor the administrative exemptions — the only two exemptions for overtime pay requirements presently applicable to loan officers — apply.

California state law has a similar requirement. Schueler claims in her lawsuit that, in violation of California law, Option One does not provide a semi-monthly statement detailing the gross wages earned and the total hours worked by the employee.

Schueler is asking for unpaid back wages, interest and attorneys’ fees and costs.

Option One was named 2003 Business of the Year by the Irvine Chamber of Commerce because of its focus on employees.

OC Metro magazine named Option One one of the best companies to work for in Orange County in 2004. A story in the magazine highlighted the company’s allowance of casual work attire for employees and its provision of a generous package of employee benefits, including company-paid health insurance for employees’ pets.


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