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Mediation Fails To End AllianceBernstein OT Suit

EmploymentLaw360 - James Armstrong

Following a failed attempt at mediation, a former associate portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein LP who filed a collective action against the troubled investment management firm is being allowed to resume discovery into claims the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York labor law.

Judge Victor Marrero of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday lifted a partial stay on discovery that the court put into place after AllianceBernstein and former employee Jason Silverstein agreed to enter into mediation.

The parties engaged in mediation at JAMS Dispute Resolution with mediator David Geronemus on June 18, 2010, but the mediation was not successful, according to a letter submitted to the court by Molly Brooks, an attorney with Outten & Golden LLP who represents Silverstein.

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Silverstein filed a complaint against AllianceBernstein, formerly known as Alliance Capital Management LP, in 2009 on behalf of himself and other similarly situated employees who were allegedly denied overtime premium pay in violation of the FLSA and New York law.

In February 2006, Silverstein began as an entry-level associate portfolio manager, and he continued to work for the company and receive periodic raises until he was involuntarily terminated in April 2009, according to the complaint.

The primary function of Silverstein's job was to enter trade orders as recommended by AllianceBernstein's proprietary software application, the complaint said. The duties of the job were allegedly clerical in nature and did not involve the exercise of any discretion or independent judgment.

Silverstein claims he regularly worked more than 40 hours per week but that the company failed to pay him and similar employees overtime compensation at the rate of time and one-half for all hours over 40 in a workweek.

The suit seeks unpaid overtime wages plus prejudgment interest, an injunction against future violations, and fees and costs.

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