Update: A federal jury sided with Quicken Loans, saying the company does not owe over 300 employees overtime pay because "sales" were not their primary job responsibility. (AP)
Quicken Loans is embroiled in a federal trial up in Detroit right now. Former employees are claiming they are owed overtime for working upwards of 60 hours a week. Quicken bosses disagree, saying that the rank-and-file that work the phones are not sales people, but rather "mortgage bankers" who advise homeowners.
Allegations include being made to watch cold-call sales movies like Boiler Room and insistence that working the phones, hawking loans and urging people to fork over $500 to get the process started, was key to doing the job well. Always be closing, as it were.
Quicken claims that even though "sales" was used to describe some tasks, the employees were anything but salespeople.
An attorney for the former employees, Paul Lukas, displayed e-mails to the jury to show that Quicken Loans repeatedly referred to its "sales" teams. He explained how the workers sat at computers, made phone calls and tried to get people to agree to a loan and pay $500 to get an application started.
The average pay was $40,000 a year — "good money, but not when you're working 60 hours a week," Lukas said.
He said it was a "high pressure, high stress job," where employees watched movies about cold-call sales, including "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Boiler Room."
"They're taught pounding the phones and making calls will make them successful. . There's nothing wrong with sales. What's wrong is saying it's not sales to avoid paying overtime," Lukas told jurors.
Quicken says the phone staff were more like doctors or lawyers (of course, what with their $40,000 a year salaries and all) who get no overtime pay. A verdict in favor of the plaintiffs would cost Quicken millions of bucks, which is why Dan Gilbert himself was in the courtroom for the proceedings, talking with lawyers and counting his money.