Reports have surfaced that home-based customer service representatives (CSRs) working for Direct Interactions, Inc. have been forced to work as independent contractors and denied overtime pay in violation of federal labor law.
According to allegations in a recently filed lawsuit, Direct Interactions requires its CSRs to work a minimum of 30 hours per week, yet fails to compensate them for “off the clock” work:
- Under threat of penalty, the company does not permit its CSRs to clock in more than three minutes before a shift begins, regardless of how much time it might take a CSR to boot up their computers and launch programs required for their jobs. On average, start-up and log-in process ranges on average from 5 to 10 minutes per day, and sometimes as long as 15 minutes.
- The company requires CSRs to check work-related e-mails before they clock in for their shifts.
- During their shifts, CSRs are often deprived of mandatory meal and rest breaks if call volumes are high. Lunch breaks are typically 30 minutes.
- CSRs are not paid when technical issues disconnect them from company computer servers, which occurs 2-3 days each week.
- One CSR reported being required to ask permission to take a restroom break, which a supervisor would sometimes deny. If the CSR did not return to work within 5 minutes of taking a restroom break, the company’s systems would automatically disconnect, and that time as well as time spent logging back on would go unpaid.
Each of these abuses constitutes a violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and the unpaid time regularly pushes a CSR’s weekly hours above the 40-hour overtime threshold. In an apparent effort to circumvent the FLSA, however, Direct Interactions forces CSRs to sign an “Independent Contractor Agreement” that characterizes them as “Suppliers” exempt from overtime compensation.
As we’ve described in prior posts, wage abuse in the call center industry is far too common and the subject of investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division, which issued a fact sheet to alert home-based call agents and call center employees of the ways employers may try to withhold compensation withheld.
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group have initiated a class action lawsuit on behalf of Direct Interactions customer service representatives across the country alleging that their rights were violated and that they are entitled to recover unpaid wages. If you have worked for Direct Interactions, Inc. as a customer service representative and suspect you have been the victim of wage theft, please contact us today!