The COVID-19 outbreak has posed ongoing threats to the health of livelihoods of employees across the U.S. While many jobs and industries have been affected, the need to provide ongoing customer service and support has helped many call center companies to keep their doors open. Unfortunately, failing to pay call center workers for “off the clock” work was a problem before the coronavirus pandemic, and it continues to rob employees of their hard-earned pay.
The U.S. Telemarketing & Call Center Industry and Jobs
A January 2020 report indicates the U.S. telemarketing and call center industry generates more than $25 billion per year, providing sales and service support to travel, hospitality, healthcare, insurance, and other market sectors. Some 31,000 companies employ over 500,000 workers, many of whom work in at-home or brick-and-mortar positions like:
- Call Center Agent
- Customer Service Representative
- Customer Solutions Representative
- Inbound Customer Resolution Specialists
- Patient Care Coordinator
- Remote Agents
- Reservations Agent
- Sales Agents
- Service Center Associates
- Technical Support Representative
- Telehealth Representative
- Work at Home Customer Service Representative
- Work from Home Outbound Representative
Employee compensation accounts for the majority of a call center’s operating costs, which creates an incentive for some companies to deny wages and overtime pay from phone-based workers.
Forms of Call Center Wage Abuse
Call center wage theft and violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor laws have been longstanding concerns. In July 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor issued an alert listing various ways call center employers withhold compensation by failing to pay frontline telephone representatives for time spent:
- Booting up work computers, starting computer applications, and downloading work instructions
- Opening and logging into phone systems
- Clocking into timekeeping systems
- Shutting down computers and other systems
- Reading work-related emails after the end of their shifts
- Communicating with IT when disconnected from company networks and systems
These tasks are considered “principal activities” that workers regularly performed before and after their scheduled shifts, and which require five to 30 minutes each day.
Recent Allegations of Call Center Wage Theft
Groups of unpaid and underpaid call center employees have brought class action lawsuits seeking back pay and damages from major industry players and smaller call center operations.
Recently, claims of wage abuse have surfaced against these companies;
- BaronHR West
- Huntington Bank
- Marriott International
- One Call
- Quadient (formerly Neopost)
The attorneys in Sommers Schwartz’s Employment Litigation Group are investigating these allegations and pursuing legal action on behalf of remote and on-site customer service agents across the country to determine if their rights were violated and if they are owed unpaid wages.
If you were employed as an hourly call center worker for these or other companies at any time in the past three years, please contact us today to discuss your situation and your right to compensation.