According to a recently filed class action lawsuit, Sutherland Global Services is accused of unlawfully withholding compensation from employees in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In particular, workers in customer service agent positions (whether at-home or in brick-and-mortar offices) claim to have been denied compensation.
This type of compensation abuse 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. 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.
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
Attorneys from the law firm of Sommers Schwartz, P.C. have filed a class action on behalf of a number of Sutherland employees who believe they were unlawfully denied overtime pay in violation of wage and hour provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws. As proscribed by the Department of Labor Fact Sheet, service center associates allege that the company did not pay them for activities they were required to perform as part of their jobs. These claims are similar to allegations made in class action lawsuits brought by the firm on behalf of call center workers employed by West Business Solutions, Express Scripts, Convergys Corp., TeleTech, and others.
Sommers Schwartz attorneys are now interviewing additional Sutherland Global remote and on-site customer service agents across the country to determine if their rights were violated and if they recover unpaid wages as part of the class action. If you were employed by the company in the U.S. at any time in the past three years in this position, please contact us today to discuss your right to compensation.