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Chesley v. DIRECTV, Inc.

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

June 8, 2015

Chris Chesley, et al.
DIRECTV, Inc., et al. No. 2015 DNH 115


PAUL BARBADORO, District Judge.

This is a Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") minimum wage and overtime case brought by seven individual plaintiffs against DIRECTV TV, LLC and Multiband Corporation.

Plaintiffs installed and repaired DIRECTV satellite dishes and related equipment. Although they worked under the supervision of DIRECTV, plaintiffs were hired and paid by Multiband or another unnamed entity. To resolve the issues presented by defendants' motions to dismiss, I must determine whether DIRECTV can be considered plaintiffs' joint employer under the FLSA and whether plaintiffs' complaint otherwise alleges sufficient facts to support their minimum wage and overtime claims.


A. DIRECTV's Provider Network

DIRECTV is the largest provider of satellite television services in the United States. To install and repair its equipment, DIRECTV uses a network of providers who supply it with technicians (the "Provider Network"). The plaintiffs are seven individuals who have at one time worked for a provider performing technician services for DIRECTV. Six of the plaintiffs worked for Multiband, a member of DIRECTV's provider network, and the seventh worked for another unnamed provider.

DIRECTV conceived of, formed, and manages its Provider Network. It operates the Provider Network nationwide from its headquarters in El Segundo, California. The plaintiffs assert that all of the providers derive most, if not all, of their income from the work they do for DIRECTV.

DIRECTV controls the Provider Network through detailed agreements (the "Provider Agreements") that establish policies, procedures, performance standards, and payment method requirements. The Provider Agreements establish nearly identical business relationships between DIRECTV and each provider. Among other things, the Provider Agreements require that technicians must wear DIRECTV shirts and show customers a DIRECTV identification card. Technicians are also required to display DIRECTV insignia on the vehicles they drive to customers' homes.

Plaintiffs typically began their workdays by receiving daily work schedules from DIRECTV's dispatching system. DIRECTV delivered a "Work Order" to each technician using the technician's unique "Tech ID Number." The Work Order was assigned via a centralized computer software system known as SIEBEL.

After receiving their daily work schedules, the plaintiffs typically called each customer to confirm the timeframe within which the technician expected to arrive at the customer's home. The plaintiffs then traveled to each assigned job according to their work schedules. Upon arriving at each job site, the plaintiffs checked in with DIRECTV's dispatching system by telephone. After completing each assigned job, the plaintiffs reported to DIRECTV that the installation was complete and then worked directly with DIRECTV employees to activate the customer's service.

B. Payment of Technicians

Six of the seven plaintiffs were hired and paid for their work by Multiband and the seventh was hired and paid by another unnamed member of the Provider Network.

Plaintiffs were paid on a "piece-rate" basis for satisfactorily completing certain enumerated "productive" tasks, but they were not compensated for other necessary work such as: assembling satellite dishes, driving to and between job assignments, reviewing and receiving schedules, calling customers to confirm installations, obtaining required supplies, assisting other technicians with installations, performing required customer educations, contacting DIRECTV to report in or activate service, working on installations that were not completed, and working on "rollback" installations where Plaintiffs had to return and perform additional work on installations previously completed.

Doc. No. 1 at 11-12.

Plaintiffs were also subjected to "chargebacks" for a variety of reasons, including improper installation, customer calls regarding how to operate a remote control, and a below-95% customer satisfaction rating for the technician's services. Several of the plaintiffs were also classified as "independent contractors" and were required to purchase certain supplies necessary to perform installations such as screws, poles, concrete, and cables.

Because plaintiffs were subjected to "chargebacks, " were not compensated for all hours worked, and were not reimbursed for necessary business expenses, they claim that they received an effective wage below the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Additionally, plaintiffs claim that they routinely worked more than 40 hours ...

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