Reports have surfaced that Convergys Corporation may be unlawfully withholding compensation from its Remote Agents (at-home call center 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…. An example of the first principal activity of the day for agents/specialists/representatives working in call centers includes starting the computer to download work instructions, computer applications, and work-related emails.

Earlier this year, attorneys from the law firm of Sommers Schwartz, P.C. filed a class action lawsuit against Convergys on behalf of numerous call center workers employed as Remote Agents. The plaintiffs claim the company unlawfully withheld compensation in violation of wage and hour provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws in North Carolina. As proscribed by the Department of Labor Fact Sheet, the plaintiffs claim they were not paid for necessary activities they were required to perform as part of their jobs, including time spent booting up computers, logging into software applications, interrupted lunch breaks, and dealing with technical issues during their shift.

The recently filed case is similar to other class actions brought by Sommers Schwartz on behalf of call center workers employed by Express Scripts, Sykes Enterprises, and Alpine Access.

The Convergys lawsuit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, and Sommers Schwartz attorneys are now interviewing Convergys 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 Convergys in the U.S. at any time in the past three years as a Remote Agent, you may be eligible to join the class action.