Frequently Asked Questions About Overtime for Stock Brokers, Loan Officers and Sales Assistants
 

Who is responsible for business expenses?

Can a brokerage firm require a financial advisor to forfeit deferred compensation benefits if the financial advisor competes with the firm?

How do I make a claim for business expenses or forfeited benefits?

Tell me about your law firm.

What type of fee arrangements do you offer?

Do I have to appear in court?

What if I signed an arbitration agreement?

Won’t my employer retaliate against me for bringing a claim?

What do I do now?

 

Who is responsible for business expenses?

California Labor Code section 2802 says that an employer must reimburse its employee for “all necessary expenditures or losses” the employee incurs as a direct result of the discharge of his or duties.  We believe this means the brokerage firm can’t require its financial advisors to pay such expenses as the wages of the support staff, ticket charges, or the cost of routine trading errors.

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Can a brokerage firm require a financial advisor to forfeit deferred compensation benefits if the financial advisor competes with the firm? 

Many firms have incorporated “forfeiture-for-competition” clauses into their deferred compensation plan documents.  Under these clauses, a financial advisor automatically forfeits his or her deferred compensation if the financial advisor leaves the firm to work for a competitor.  Depending on the language of the plan documents, these clauses might be illegal.

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How do I make a claim for unpaid overtime?

Employees have three options for recovering unpaid overtime: (1) file a private claim; (2) file a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor; or (3) file a claim with the state labor commissioner. We have found that government agencies, although well-intentioned, are often understaffed, and they lack a financial incentive to assist you in pursuing your claim. In addition, there are certain procedural advantages to filing a claim in court as opposed to pursuing a claim before a government agency. We believe that pursuing a private claim is the best choice.

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Tell me about your law firm.

The attorneys at Dostart Clapp Hannink & Coveney, LLP have special expertise in overtime law and can assist you in obtaining a prompt, cost-effective resolution of your claim. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars in unpaid overtime on behalf of our clients. (Of course, results depend on the facts of each individual case.) The firm maintains an “AV” rating, the highest rating offered by Martindale-Hubbell, the country’s leading attorney rating service. The rating of “AV” signifies “very high to preeminent legal ability and very high ethical standards as established by confidential opinions from members of the Bar.”

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What type of fee arrangements do you offer?

Our firm represents employees on a contingency fee basis. This means that we advance all attorney’s fees and litigation costs necessary to prosecute your claim, and we are not paid unless we recover money for you, either through a judgment or settlement.

We find that the best way of pursuing a private claim is through a class action. A class action is a procedural device that allows one or more individual plaintiffs to sue on behalf of a class of employees who have been similarly injured. In overtime cases, a class action is often preferable to bringing an individual claim, since the costs of the lawsuit are spread out over more parties. In addition, in class actions, the court is responsible for setting the amount of the attorney’s fees, and this amount is usually paid by the employer. Our firm is very experienced in bringing overtime class action claims.

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Do I have to appear in court?

Nearly all cases are resolved without the employee having to appear in court. In some cases, you may be asked to give a deposition (a statement under oath before a court reporter) in an attorney’s office. However, one of our experienced attorneys will accompany you to the deposition and meet with you beforehand to let you know what to expect.

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What if I signed an arbitration agreement?

If you are a stock broker, under the arbitration rules of the NYSE, NASD, and American Stock Exchange, class action cases are exempt from arbitration. Therefore, you have the right to file your claim directly in court.

If you are a loan officer and signed an arbitration agreement, that agreement may be unenforceable. Our firm will quickly evaluate whether you are subject to an enforceable arbitration agreement and, if so, what your rights are.

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Won’t my employer retaliate against me for bringing a claim?

Under both California and federal law, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against, discriminate against, or harass an employee who makes a claim for unpaid wages. Violating these laws can subject an employer to possible criminal penalties, as well as punitive damages.

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What do I do now?

Contact us, either by filling out our forms page, or by calling Jim Clapp, who chairs the firm’s Litigation Group, during regular business hours at (858) 623-4200. Consultations are free.

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