According to allegations made in a recently filed class action, auto manufacturer General Motors and its strategic partner Aerotek, Inc. make hourly call center workers perform work-related tasks before and after their shifts, depriving them of hard-earned wages. The lawsuit, filed by Sommers Schwartz, P.C., is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The plaintiffs, along with similarly situated employees, work as customer service representatives at a shared GM-Aerotek call center in Warren, Michigan. The workers claim that they are required to start up and login to various computer programs and applications before clocking in for their shifts, to put in additional off-the-clock time during lunch breaks, and to clock out before logging out of the programs and applications at the end of their shifts, all of which are violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The alleged uncompensated work totals up to 30 minutes a day.
Wage abuse in the call center industry has come under scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division, which issued a fact sheet to alert call center employees of ways in which they could have their compensation unlawfully withheld. The publication specifically condemns the practice of not paying workers for 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 DOL 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
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are interviewing additional GM and Aerotek customer service representatives across the country to determine if their rights were violated and if they are entitled to recover unpaid wages as part of the class action. If you worked as a customer service representative at the General Motors Technical Center in the past three years, please contact us today!