Hewlett-Packard Hit With Contractor Abuse

January 31, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Two contract workers allege in a lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard Co. that the giant computer maker improperly denied them and other contractors overtime and benefits and barred them from recording worked hours over 40 in a week.

According to the suit filed in Santa Clara County (California) Superior Court, the company misidentifies them as independent contractors in order to get out of giving them proper pay and benefits, Washington-based legal publisher BNA reported. The suit alleges that the workers were improperly denied health and dental benefits, ESOP participation, 401(k) savings plans, profit sharing, and other related employee benefits.

A plaintiff lawyer said the suit seeks class-action certification for 40 identified plaintiffs.

The suit charges that the contract employees:

  • are required to be on telephone standby 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The plaintiffs received calls all night and were required to have pagers with them at all times to report to the office at any time.
  • must get permission to leave the geographic area near H-P’s Cupertino, Calif., campus, often several months in advance
  • routinely work 12-hour days and 80-hour weeks
  • many of the workers have been intimidated and threatened by one manager to ensure they work the required hours without reporting the actual hours worked. The suit alleges that one manager “made it plain to each plaintiff that they will be terminated if they offer any objection or resistance to receiving no compensation for the hours they work in excess of 40 hours per week and/or 8 hours per day.”

Named plaintiff Bryant Marks, a computer programmer/software engineer, worked continuously at H-P from April 1995 to December 2002 when he was wrongfully discharged, according to the suit. Marks allegedly worked 1,217 hours of overtime without compensation while on one project.

Amir Mahzouf, who is working on developing and placing online a worldwide catalog of products available from the merged companies of H-P and Compaq, has been a contractor continuously for H-P since November 1995, according to the complaint. Mahzouf alleged he worked 2,148 hours of unpaid overtime in a 27-month period.

The case is Marks v. Hewlett Packard Co., Cal. Super. Ct., No. CV814186.