Skip to Main Content


DeLuca v. Farmers Insurance Exchange et al.
Court File No. 3:17-cv-00034 (Northern District of California)

On Wednesday, January 4th, 2017, we filed a Complaint in Northern District of California federal court against Farmers Insurance Exchange, Farmers Group, Inc., Farmers Insurance Company, and Farmers Specialty Insurance Company, Inc. (collectively “Farmers”). The Complaint alleges that Farmers unlawfully denied overtime compensation to special investigators by improperly classifying them as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and California law. The Complaint was filed as a collective action under federal law and as a class action under California law. The Complaint seeks unpaid overtime wages, double damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.

Type of Case

Unpaid Overtime Wages


Am I eligible?

Because this lawsuit arises under both state and federal law, you may have a qualifying state law claim, federal law claim, or both state and federal law claims.

Do I Have a Qualifying State Law Claim?

You may have a claim under California state law if you worked overtime (over eight hours in a day or over 40 hours in a workweek) for Farmers as a special investigator at any time within the past four years.

Do I Have a Qualifying Federal Law Claim?

You are eligible to make a claim in this case under federal law claim (the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”)) if you worked overtime (over 40 hours per week) for Farmers as a special investigator at any time within the past three years. In order to make a claim, please complete a consent form (see below) and return it to our office.

Additional Information

Is This a Class Action? What Does that Mean?

This case is both a potential class action under state law and a potential collective action under federal law. This means that, depending on the type of claim you have, there may be a slightly different process for joining and participating in this suit. See below for more details on this process.

Though the process and terminology may differ slightly, the idea behind both a class and collective action is the same: it allows one or more people to sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims. In order to proceed as a group, though, the Court must certify the class and collective. Because we are in the early stages of the case, this has not happened yet, but we intend to file the motions at the appropriate times asking the Court to grant these certifications.

How Do I Join This Case?

To make a claim under the federal FLSA, you must complete a consent form and return it to our office. You can also sign up online by clicking here.

What Time Frame Does This Case Cover?

The federal statute of limitations in cases such as this typically allows employees to recover unpaid wages for hours worked within two years of signing up for the lawsuit (three years if we can prove the company willfully violated the law). California law allows employees to recover unpaid wages for hours worked over eight hours in a day or over 40 in a workweek, for up to four years from the date the Complaint was filed.

Do I Have To Pay Anything?

You do not have to pay anything to our firm out-of-pocket if you join the lawsuit. We are handling this case on a contingency basis. This means we will only be paid if the lawsuit is successful in obtaining relief through a settlement, final judgment, or award, and our payment will come only out of that settlement, final judgment, or award.

How Do I Prove I Worked Overtime?

Where the employer does not keep accurate time records, most courts permit the employee to make a “good faith” estimate of the overtime hours they worked. You do not need to have documentary proof of the hours you worked, and the court will generally accept a good faith estimate of your hours.  During litigation, we will request that Farmers provide us with any documents or other evidence of your work hours.

How Long Will This Case Take?

The length of lawsuits varies. Cases like this typically last one to two years.

What About Retaliation?

The law protects you from retaliation for asserting your rights: it is against the law to retaliate against a person for joining a lawsuit for unpaid wages. If you suffer retaliation, you may be able to assert additional claims. If you feel you may be the victim of retaliation for participating in this lawsuit, please contact our clerk Ignasi Dorca at immediately.

How Do I Learn More?

To learn more about this case, feel free to contact our clerk Ignasi Dorca at or call toll free at (612) 256-3200.  You can also review case updates we will post periodically above.

Case Updates

  • May 16, 2019

    Farmers Special Investigators Represented by Nichols Kaster Are Not Exempt From Overtime Protection

    Yesterday, a California federal judge held that special investigators who worked for Farmers Insurance Exchange are not exempt from receiving overtime pay under state or federal law. Special investigators are tasked by the insurance company with investigating suspicious or potentially fraudulent insurance claims. Farmers has always paid them a salary, with no overtime premium pay for overtime hours worked. Farmers claims that its special investigators are exempt from overtime pay under the “administrative exemption.” The case is certified as a collective action under the federal overtime law and as a class action under California state law.

    The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in February, challenging Farmers’ exemption defense, and Farmers filed a motion asking the court to rule that the special investigators should not receive overtime pay. On May 15th, the court held that Farmers did not meet its burden of proving that special investigators are exempt. The case will now go to trial to determine how much overtime the special investigators worked and should be paid.

    This isn’t the first time Farmers has been sued by its special investigators seeking overtime pay.  In Fenton v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, as case also handled by Nichols Kaster, PLLP, a Minnesota federal judge similarly ruled against Farmers, finding that the special investigators were overtime eligible. While Farmers claims in the current case that it changed the job duties so that special investigators are now exempt, the court was not persuaded.

    The court addressed other issues in the ruling. Significantly, it rejected Farmers’ request to apply the “fluctuating workweek method” of calculating overtime pay at “half-time,” and held that overtime must be paid at 1.5 times the workers’ regular rate of pay. The court also granted the plaintiffs’ motion on claims for wage statement penalties that derive from the overtime misclassification. The court found that factual disputes prevented it from deciding now whether Farmers had a good faith reason for its violations and whether Farmers is liable for missed meal periods. Those issues will be decided at trial, which will begin September 30, 2019.

    Plaintiffs are represented by Matt Morgan, Reena Desai, and Daniel Brome from Nichols Kaster, PLLP. The case is entitled Deluca v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 3:17-cv-00034-EDL (N.D. Cal.).

    Additional information about the case may be found at or by calling Nichols Kaster, PLLP at (612) 256-3200.

    Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

  • March 6, 2018

    Farmers Special Investigators – Overtime Lawsuit - Update March 6, 2018

    On February 27, 2018, the Court granted our motion for class certification of the California claims. This means all special investigators, except those in the Nationals group, who have worked for Farmers at any time since January 2013 in California will be automatically included in the case as class members. Notice of Class Certification will be disseminated soon, at which time eligible special investigators will be notified of their inclusion in the case as a class member, and they will have to affirmatively opt-out of the lawsuit if they do not want to be included. Please contact the case clerk, Adwoa Afreh, at or by phone at (612) 256-3253 if you have any questions.

  • January 30, 2018

    Farmers Special Investigators – Overtime Lawsuit - Update January 30, 2018

    We filed a motion for class certification on September 28, 2017, asking the Judge to certify the case as a class action covering special investigators who work or worked in California. On January 9, 2018, the Judge held a hearing on the motion to grant class certification. Based on the Judge’s comments during the hearing, we are cautiously optimistic. While we wait for the judge’s decision, we are continuing discovery and working to prepare for summary judgment motions.

  • October 17, 2017

    Farmers Special Investigators – Overtime Lawsuit - Update October 17, 2017

    We have great news! The Court has approved of this case proceeding as a collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. As a result, Farmers has been ordered to produce a list of all eligible employees, with their name and contact information for the purposes of sending them the notice of lawsuit. The notice was mailed and emailed to all eligible employees and provides them with an opportunity to join the case before the November 6, 2017 deadline. If your contact information has changed or if you want to know whether you are eligible to join this lawsuit, please contact our case clerk, Adwoa Afreh, at or by phone at (612) 256-3253.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established. Read full Disclaimer.