INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – Ruling against the online-review giant in an overtime-wage case, a federal judge found that Angie’s List cannot force three of its former sales representatives to surrender personal laptops and cellphones they used for work.
The ruling is a response to a discovery request from the crowd-sourced review company, the defendant in a 2016 lawsuit brought by three former senior sales reps who claim they routinely worked more than 40 hours per week but were denied overtime pay.
In their work for Indianapolis-based Angie's List, the salesmen say they spent a significant portion of their workday on the phone, finalizing advertising sales for the company website. Because the company did not provide cellphones or laptops for use outside its offices, sales personnel were encouraged to use their own personal electronic devices.
With the federal lawsuit pending, Angie's List claims that getting GPS and location services data from the personal cellphones and laptops the salesmen used in their work will enable the company to “construct a detailed and accurate timeline of when [the salesmen] were or were not working.”
GPS data, the company insists, is relevant to establishing how many hours the sales reps actually worked during the year they claim near-constant overtime hours.
The salesmen and their attorneys disagree, saying that in addition to constituting a violation of privacy, the GPS data will not accurately portray whether they were working at any given time, and the company has other, far less intrusive means to document their working hours.
In its attempt to make the case for obtaining GPS data from personal electronic devices, Angie's List explained to the court that the salesmen could remain logged onto the company software installed on their personal computers, but be inactive for up to four hours. GPS data, however, would reveal whether they had left for the day, left for lunch, or took an unpaid break during the four-hour window when they were still logged into the company's computer program.
Countering such claims, the salesmen say they have already provided their former employer with cellphone records, which will allow the company to identify business-related calls, and the company also has access to data from its software that will show when each sales rep was logged in, as well as badge-swipe and computer log-in data from within company offices.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Dinsmore sided with the salesmen Tuesday, denying Angie’s List’s motion to compel the GPS data based on privacy concerns.
"The forensic examination of plaintiffs’ electronic devices is not proportional to the needs of the case because any benefit the data might provide is outweighed by plaintiffs' significant privacy and confidentiality interests,” Dinsmore wrote in a 10-page ruling.
The sales reps filed their lawsuit in April 2016 in Indianapolis federal court, alleging Angie's List violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying them for overtime hours. They are represented by Kathleen A. DeLaney and Christopher Stake of the Indianapolis law firm DeLaney & DeLaney.
Angie's List was founded in 1995. In 2015, the company's posted revenue was $344.1 million. Amy S. Wilson of Frost Brown Todd LLC represents the company in the pending lawsuit.
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