A series of lawsuits and investigations may be uncovering an alarming trend of wage theft and abuse among certain call center companies – depriving employees of their hard-earned compensation.
In recent years, reports and complaints of unpaid overtime against Signia Marketing, Dialog Direct, Concentrix, Direct Interactions, Ameridial, and other industry players have alleged that home-based and on-site employees are forced to work “off the clock” and fail to have all of their hours recorded. These illicit practices are viewed as an attempt to bilk call center agents out of overtime pay by making it appear that their time cards don’t include more than 40 hours per week.
For example, in a recently filed class action against Signia Marketing, Ltd. and its owner, Jeffrey Fell, the plaintiffs claim that the company made its customer service representatives work beyond the forty-hour overtime threshold, yet only paid them their straight hourly rates, not time-and-a-half as required by federal and state labor laws.
Call center wage abuse has been such a significant issue that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division issued a fact sheet to educate call center workers about the different ways their employers may withhold wages and overtime pay, including:
- Requiring workers to log into computer systems before starting their shifts;
- Requiring them to sign out of computer systems after their shifts end;
- Failing to pay workers for the periods of time when technical issues disconnect them from company computer systems, for time spent addressing technical issues with IT support, and time needed to reboot computer systems after correcting the issue;
- Failed to provide workers with bona fide meal breaks by forcing them to perform job-related tasks during breaks; and
- Requiring workers to write and send work-related emails, make work-related calls, and handle other work-related tasks after they clock out at the end of the day.
When combined, unpaid meal breaks, pre- and post-shift work, and other off-the-clock time can easily bring employee time to over 40 hours each week, which must be paid at time-and-half.
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are investigating employee complaints of wage theft by call center employers. If you have worked as a telephone agent in a customer support, customer service, technical support, or client relations role and have information regarding unpaid wages and overtime in your workplace, please contact us today!