COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Is there workplace static coming into the picture? A federal judge in Ohio this week conditionally certified a class-action against Digital Dish, a privately owned regional service provider for satellite TV company DISH Network of Englewood, Colo. Technicians who installed, maintained and repaired digital satellite equipment -- primarily dishes and receivers -- contend they worked more than 40 hours a week but did not receive overtime pay. The workers say they were told that "as a matter of company policy" they would be terminated if they recorded working more than 40 hours in a week.
At this point, the lawsuit appears to cover the technicians who worked in Ohio, and portions of Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia. Court records indicate Digital Dish has about 300 satellite TV installers on its payroll in the region at any given time. The records also indicate they worked long days:
"Technicians typically receive their next day's work orders in the evening and pre-call customers to schedule service appointments in advance. The Digital Dish warehouses open at approximately 7:30 a.m. each day. When a technician arrives at one of Digital Dish's warehouses in the morning [apparently around 6:30 a.m.] he pick up the DISH Network equipment necessary to complete his day's assigned work orders. Prior to leaving the Digital Dish warehouses, technicians generally attach the mounting structure, arms, and certain low-noise block feedhorns to satellite dishes to make more space in their trucks. Further, technicians often spend fifteen to twenty minutes downloading the necessary programs to the receivers set for delivery, so they can save time once they arrive at a costumer's home.
"With the equipment in hand, each technician then sets out to complete his day's schedule. In general, a technician's primary task is the delivery and installation of DISH Network equipment, but technicians also do repairs, upgrades, and returns. Each technician completes approximately two to three installations per day. After the technician completes a service call, he secures the customer's approval on a DISH Network Customers Service Agreement and (in the case of satellite receiver equipment installations) activates the customer's satellite subscription by contacting DISH Network."
U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley said the case can go forward as a class-action for the time being. He said some of the company's legal moves to stop the class-action side-stepped the workers' contention Digital Dish "was officially putting one policy on paper, but unofficially threatening and enforcing a separate practice."
The case is Dominic Mussarra, et al v. Digital Dish Inc; No. 2:05-cv-545 Southern District of Ohio. Judge Marbley said the satellite technicians "clearly define the proposed class and their declarations in support claim first-hand knowledge of illegal practices being imposed on technicians from multiple facilities. Applying a lenient standard to the pleadings and affidavits submitted in this case, the Court finds conditional certification appropriate."