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Former Homestore Employee Files Suit for Overtime Pay

September 18, 2004|Debora Vrana | Times Staff Writer

A former Homestore Inc. employee filed suit Friday against the Westlake Village firm, alleging that she and other workers were improperly classified as managers so the company could avoid paying them overtime.

Elizabeth Hathaway, 45, was an account executive at Homestore, the Internet's largest provider of real estate listings. Her suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the company violated the state labor code, violated business and professions codes and failed to pay overtime. The suit is seeking class-action status and unspecified damages.

Homestore "misclassified an entire class of employees to deprive them of overtime compensation they were due," said Hathaway's attorney, Michael Parks of Schimmel & Porter.

Calls to Homestore seeking comment were not returned.

In recent years, a wave of class-action suits seeking overtime pay has swept the state, with suits filed against Bank of America Corp., Starbucks Corp., Taco Bell Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. In a closely watched labor law case, the state Supreme Court last month overturned a lower court ruling that would have discouraged such suits.

State law requires that workers who spend more than 50% of their time performing the duties of hourly workers, even if they are classified as managers, be eligible for overtime pay.

On Sept. 3, Los Angeles-based insurer Farmers Insurance Exchange agreed to pay $210 million for failing to pay overtime to 2,400 claims adjusters, settling what some said was the nation's largest white-collar overtime case.

Homestore has had a series of legal woes in recent years. Several executives and associates have been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused them of overstating revenue. The firm has moved to settle suits stemming from the allegations.

Homestore operates Realtor.com, a free multiple-listing service for the National Assn. of Realtors; Homebuilder.com for the National Assn. of Home Builders; and an online apartment listing service.

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