Reports have surfaced that Express Scripts and other call centers may be unlawfully withholding compensation from employees in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The problem is not new. In July 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division issued Fact Sheet #64, in which it alerted call center employees of certain abuses prevalent in the industry. In particular, the publication specifically condemns call center employer’s practice of not paying workers for the necessary job-related activities performed before and after their shifts:
In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal activity of the workday to the end of the last principal activity of the workday.
According to the Fact Sheet, call center agents, specialists, and representatives working must be paid for “principal activities” such as:
- Starting the computer to download work instructions
- Booting up computer applications
- Shutting down a computer and other systems
- Reading work-related emails
On April 8, 2014, attorneys from the law firm of Sommers Schwartz, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit against Express Scripts, Inc. on behalf of numerous call center workers employed as Prescription Benefits Specialists and Customer Service Agents. The plaintiffs claim Express Scripts unlawfully withheld compensation in violation of wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. As proscribed by the Department of Labor Fact Sheet, the plaintiffs claim that they were not paid for necessary activities they were required to perform as part of their jobs—like booting up the company’s phone dialer software program. The recently filed case against Express Scripts is similar to other class actions brought by Sommers Schwartz on behalf of call center workers employed by TeleTech and Convergys Corp.
The Express Scripts lawsuit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, and Sommers Schwartz attorneys are now interviewing Express Scripts workers from across the country to determine if their rights were violated and if they may be owed unpaid wages. If you were employed by Express Scripts (including Medco or Liberty) in the U.S. at any time in the past three years as an Prescription Benefit Specialist, Customer Service Agent, or other position that used the phone dialer software, you may be eligible to join the class action.