Cases

Sprint Nextel (Retail Employees) – Unpaid Commissions Lawsuit

Sibley et al. v. Sprint Nextel Corporation and Sprint/United Management Company

Staff: Will Elsass, Christine Rued
Attorneys: Rebekah L. Bailey, Michele R. Fisher, Paul J. Lukas

We are handling a nationwide class action on behalf of commissioned retail employees against Sprint Nextel Company and Sprint/United Management Company. (See First Amended Complaint.) These commissioned retail employees seek unpaid commissions and related penalties based on contracts for commissions they had with Sprint Nextel Corporation and Sprint/United Management Company. The court certified the case as a class action in November 2008.

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Case Status Updates
In July, Plaintiffs prevailed in their effort to keep the case certified as a class action, with the Special Master issuing a recommendation to the judge that Sprint’s motion for decertification be denied.  Sprint objected to the Special Master’s report and the Court is reviewing that ... Read More »

What Is This Lawsuit About?

This lawsuit is about whether Sprint violated its agreement with its employees to pay their commissions and whether it violated Kansas wage payment laws by not paying commissions.  Although this case involves employees from all over the United States, the case is brought in Kansas because Sprint is a Kansas corporation and because Sprint’s commission agreements include a provision that all lawsuits related to those agreements must be brought in Kansas.

What Is A Class Action And Who Is Involved?

In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “class representatives” sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims.  Together, they are called a “class” or “class members.”

The class representatives in this case are Roxie Sibley, Jeanne Noel, Ernesto Bennett, Jamie Williams, Greg St. Julien, Tracie Hernandez, John Jasinski, Jay Richie, and Teisha King.  They are all current or former Sprint retail employees.  The class representatives and the class members are called the Plaintiffs.

The companies they sued, Sprint Nextel Corporation and Sprint/United Management Company, are called the Defendants.  The judge or jury resolves the claims for everyone in the class – except those who ask to be excluded from the class.

Why Is This Lawsuit A Class Action?

Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs class actions in federal courts.  The Court decided to allow this lawsuit to proceed as a class action because it meets the requirements of Rule 23.  Specifically, the court found the following:

  • There are several thousand current and former Sprint retail employees who were paid at least in part by commissions.
  • There are facts and legal issues that are common to each of the class members.
  • The class representatives’ claims are typical of the claims of the rest of the class.
  • The class representatives and the lawyers will adequately represent the class.
  • The common legal questions are more important than issues that affect only individuals.
  • A class action will be more efficient than many individual lawsuits.

What Does The Lawsuit Claim?

The plaintiffs say that Sprint violated its agreement to pay commissions to its retail employees.  Specifically, they argue that Sprint did not accurately pay its employees for commissions they earned pursuant to their commission agreements because of computer problems related to Sprint’s commission systems.  The plaintiffs also argue that this violates the Kansas Wage Payment Act, which provides that it is illegal to not pay an employee commissions that he or she has earned.

How Does Sprint Answer?

Although Sprint acknowledges that there have been some issues with its commission system and processes, Sprint says that it has met its obligations under the commission plans.  Sprint also argues that even if it did not pay all commissions due to all employees, its recalculation payments have led to Sprint paying all or more of the amount due.

Has The Court Decided Who Is Right?

No. The Court has not yet decided whether Sprint or the plaintiffs are correct.  By certifying a class and issuing a notice to be sent to the class members, the Court does not intend to suggest that the plaintiffs will win or lose this case.  The plaintiffs must prove their claims at a trial.

What Are The Plaintiffs Asking For?

The plaintiffs want the Court to decide that Sprint did not comply with its commissions agreements and that by breaking its agreements, it also broke Kansas law.  They want the court to order Sprint to pay the unpaid commissions and to pay the penalties prescribed by the Kansas Wage Payment Act for not paying earned commissions.

Is There Any Money Available Now?

No.  Money or other benefits are not available now because the Court has not yet decided whether the plaintiffs’ claims are valid, and the two sides have not settled the case.  There is no guarantee that money or other benefits will ever be awarded to the class members.  If they are, you will be notified and instructed how to claim your share.

Who Is In The Class?

Judge Vratil decided that the following people are members of the class:

“All persons nationwide who worked for Defendants’ retail stores since their merger with Nextel, including Retail Store District Managers, Retail Stores Managers, Assistant Retail Store Managers, Lead Retail Consultants, Retail Consultants, Retail Sales Representatives, and other retail employees whose compensation was based in full or in part on commissions.”

Am I Part Of This Class?

If you meet the above description, you are a class member.

• You worked as a retail employee between August 12, 2005 and September 30, 2009.
• You were compensated at least partially by commissions.

If your job title was Retail Store District Manager, Retail Stores Manager, Assistant Retail Store Manager, Lead Retail Consultant, Retail Consultant, or Retail Sales Representative, and you worked between August 12, 2005 and September 30, 2009, then you are a class member as long as you were paid, at least partially, by commissions.

If your job title is not listed here, but you worked for a Sprint retail store, then you are still a class member as long as you were paid, at least partially, by commissions.

Which Current And Former Employees Are Not Included?

If you were a retail employee, but you stopped working before August 2005, you are not a class member. If you are or were a retail employee between August 12, 2005 and September 30, 2009, but you were never paid on a commission basis, you are not a class member. If you worked as a retail employee. But only after September 30, 2009, you are not a class member, even if you were paid on a commission basis.

What If I Am Still Not Sure If I Am Included?

If you are still not sure whether you are a class member, you can contact us at 1-877-448-0492, write to us at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, 4600 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, or email our clerk Will Elsass at welsass@nka.com.

What Happens If I Do Nothing?

If you are a class member and do nothing, you stay in the class.  You get to keep the possibility of getting money or benefits from this lawsuit.  If you stay in and the plaintiffs win at trial or obtain a settlement, then you will be notified and instructed how to claim your share of the judgment or settlement.  You can also ask to be excluded from the settlement.  If you do nothing, you will not be able to sue Sprint on your own for the same legal claims that are involved in this lawsuit.  You will be bound by that judgment and by all the orders the Court issues in this case.  You will be able to sue Sprint on your own only for matters unrelated to this lawsuit.

Why Would I Ask To Be Excluded?

You would ask to be excluded if you do not want to sue Sprint regarding the commission issues involved in this case.  Also, our goal in this case is to determine accurate commission payments.  If you believe that you may disagree with our data analysis of which commissions should have been paid to which employees, you may want to exclude yourself from the class.  Or, if you already have your own lawsuit against Sprint for the claims involved in this case, and you want to continue your own lawsuit, then you need to exclude yourself from the class.  If you choose to exclude yourself—sometimes called “opting out,” you will be able to sue Sprint on your own and you will not be bound by the Court’s orders and judgments in this class action.  However, you will also give up the right to receive your share of any judgment or settlement in this case.

If you exclude yourself to start your own lawsuit against Sprint, then you will have to hire your own lawyer, you will have to pay your lawyer, and you will have to prove your claims in court.  If you choose to exclude yourself from the class, you should talk to your lawyer first, because your claims may be subject to a statute of limitations.

How Do I Ask The Court to Exclude Me From The Case?

The deadline to opt-out of the case has passed.

Do I Have A Lawyer In This Case?

Yes, if you choose not to be excluded from the class.  The Court decided that our firm Nichols Kaster, PLLP, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP, of Kansas City, Missouri are qualified to represent the class members.  The lawyers of both firms are experienced in handling similar cases against other employers.  You can read more about our lawyers at www.nka.com and about the lawyers of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP at www.stuevesiegel.com.  The Court has appointed our lawyers and those of Stueve Siegel Hanson LLP to be “class counsel,” which means that both firms together will represent you and all the class members.  You will not be charged for the services of either firm.

Who Are Sprint's Lawyers In This Case?

Sprint Nextel Corp. and Sprint/United Management Co. are represented by Proskauer Rose, Eleven Times Square, New York, New York 10036; Dentons US LLP, 4520 Main Street, Suite 1100, Kansas City, Missouri 64111.

Should I Get My Own Lawyer?

You do not need to hire your own lawyer because class counsel is working on your behalf.  If you want your own lawyer, you will have to pay that lawyer.  For example, you can ask your lawyer to appear in Court for you and speak on your behalf instead of class counsel.

How Will The Lawyers Be Paid?

If class counsel are able to get money or other benefits for the class, they may ask the Court for fees and expenses.  If the Court awards fees and expenses, this money would either be deducted from the money that the lawyers recover for the class or it would be paid separately by Sprint.  You will not be charged for class counsel’s services in any other way.

How And When Will the Court Decide Who Is Right?

As long as the class action is not resolved by settlement or otherwise, class counsel will have to prove the plaintiffs’ claims at a trial.  During the trial the judge or a jury will hear all of the evidence and then decide whether the plaintiffs or Sprint are right about the claims in the lawsuit.  There is no guarantee that the plaintiffs will get any money or benefits for the class.  The Court has not yet set a date for the trial.

Do I Have To Come To The Trial?

No.  You do not need to attend the trial.  Class counsel will present the case for you and the other class members, and Sprint’s lawyers will present Sprint’s defenses.  You or your own lawyer are welcome to come at your own expense.  If the Court decides that Sprint owes you money for unpaid commissions, you may have to attend to determine the amount of financial damages you can claim.  You will receive additional notice if there is any reason for you to come to court.

Will I Get Money After The Trial?

If the plaintiffs win at trial or obtain a settlement, you will be notified and instructed how to claim your share.   We do not know how long this will take.

How Can I Learn More?

You may contact us toll free at 1-877-448-0492, write to us at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, 4600 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, or email our clerk Will Elsass, at welsass@nka.com or toll free at (877) 448-0492, ext. 260. You may also check this site for periodic updates.


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