In a recently filed collective action lawsuit, customer service representatives employed by Metro Brokers, Inc. claim that the company unlawfully withheld compensation in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

The plaintiffs allege that the company incorrectly calculated the representatives’ hourly overtime rate at 1.5 times the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 instead of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate (approximately $13.00). The lawsuit also alleges that Metro Brokers failed to pay the reps for “off-the-clock” time spent booting up and logging into the computer system, approximately five to ten minutes before their designated daily start time – time and tasks for which the U.S. Department of Labor has declared that call center employees are to be compensated.

Claims like these have been the subject of U.S. Department of Labor scrutiny for several years. In July 2008, the agency’s Wage & Hour Division issued Fact Sheet #64, in which it alerted call center employees of these kinds of statutory violations, especially situations where call center employer fail to pay workers necessary job-related activities:

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. Also included is any additional time the employee is allowed (i.e., suffered or permitted) to work. 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.

The Fact Sheet clearly defines the “principal activities” for which call center agents, specialists, and representatives must be paid:

  • Starting the computer to download work instructions
  • Booting up computer applications
  • Shutting down a computer and other systems
  • Reading work-related emails

Attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are interviewing additional customer service representatives from whom Metro Brokers allegedly withheld wages and overtime pay. If you were employed by the company at any time in the past three years as a customer service representative, please contact us today.