Detroit: Long trial on overtime at Quicken Loans nears end Company claims overtime exemption for admin work applies

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- Attorneys for Quicken Loans portrayed former employees who are suing the company for overtime pay as greedy and dishonest during closing arguments Monday in a trial that will determine if the company shortchanged more than 300 people who peddled mortgages over the phone.

Quicken attorney Jeffrey Morganroth displayed photos of many plaintiffs for the jury, then slapped disparaging labels next to them, such as "lied," "evaded" and "exaggerated."

The trial, which began Feb. 8, has centered on whether work at the online mortgage giant was primarily sales, which would qualify the brokers for millions in overtime under federal law. Quicken, however, claims an overtime exemption for administrative work in the financial industry should apply.

The word "sales" is just "generic lingo," Morganroth said.

"Every single job has a sales component," he said, noting that politicians promote their philosophy for votes, successful lawyers try to attract more business and even clergy "try to get members to join their congregation."

Morganroth said brokers who worked at Quicken call centers in Michigan and Ohio knew they wouldn't get overtime when they took the job and were promised salary and commissions.

"Is it fair? Is it just? They want overtime to be paid on top of commissions," Morganroth told jurors.

But Paul Lukas, an attorney for the former employees, said it doesn't matter whether the brokers agreed to ignore overtime. The company, he said, still can be liable for a four-year period ending in the summer of 2006.

He recounted some of the evidence presented in the case, including motivational e-mails sent by Quicken founder Dan Gilbert and other executives urging the phone crews to keep dialing.

"A production machine -- that's what these people are," Lukas said.

If jurors decide that the plaintiffs' primary role was in sales, they will determine how many hours were worked each week by 25 plaintiffs and use that to make an estimate for hundreds of others.

Morganroth said some employees made personal calls on company time and shopped online. He put the tag "surf net" under some of their photos.

"They didn't work overtime every week," he told the jury.

Published: Wed, Mar 16, 2011


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