BROOKLYN, N.Y. May 20 (BestWire) — Financial consultants and sales
representatives have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Axa
Financial Services and affiliates in federal court, seeking to recover
unpaid and overtime wages they allege are owed to them under federal and
New York labor laws.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District
of New York, names as defendants Axa Advisors LLC, Axa Financial Services
LLC and Axa Network LLC and any other entities affiliated with or
controlled by them.
The plaintiffs, Bennet Marcus and Steve Kennedy, allege violations of the
federal Fair Labor Standards Act and New York labor law. They seek to
represent a class that is currently or formerly employed by Axa selling
securities or training to sell securities.
Axa had wrongfully withheld their wages, starting around May 2005 and
continuing to the present, the complaint alleges.
According to the complaint, Axa wrongfully classified the plaintiffs as
exempt from overtime wages and failed to provide minimum wage and overtime
compensation to its employees for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours
in any given week.
Jeff Brown, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said he’s confident “the
scope of individuals that will be ultimately defined within the parameters
of this class action will be determined to be employees, and not
Jo Ann Tizzano, a spokeswoman for Axa Equitable Life Insurance Co., said
in an email that the company “is committed to fulfilling all of its
wage-and-hour obligations. We believe that there is no merit to this
The plaintiffs expect to ask a jury for “tens of millions of dollars” in
compensation due to the size of the class and the amount of overtime
worked by these employees, said Brown, who is with the law firm of Leeds
Marcus was employed by Axa as a trainee and cold caller from about October
2010 through February of this year, and Kennedy was employed as a
financial consultant, financial planner, trainee, and cold caller from
September 2007 through June 2010, the complaint says.
New York-based Axa Financial is a unit of France-based Axa SA.
In 2009, three former financial representatives of Northwestern Mutual
Life Insurance Co. filed a $200 million lawsuit against the company,
alleging it denied them minimum wage and overtime pay in violation of
federal and California labor laws (BestWire, June 26, 2009).
In January 2010, a circuit court judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals in
Washington, D.C., sided with Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico, saying the
company does not have to pay overtime to automobile damage adjusters who
sued the insurer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (BestWire, Jan. 6,
Axa Equitable Life Insurance Co. currently has a Best Financial Strength
Rating of A+ (Superior).