A group of nine call center workers have filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the telecommunications giant of failing to pay them overtime in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, according to the Cook County Record.
AT&T Hit By Call Center Overtime Class Action
Joining forces as the suit’s representative plaintiffs, Diane Calloway, Doretta Wagner, Carolyn Adams-Harris, Bridgett Tift, James Bloch, Mary Hanley, Audrey Michelle Otis, China Kella and Sharon McKenzie claim that they routinely field work calls beyond their scheduled teams but aren’t being paid properly for the time.
The lawsuit was filed on October 17, 2018 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs claim that there are at least 500 similarly-situated employees who could benefit from the action. At least 378 AT&T employees have already consented to join the case. “The precise number of collective members can be ascertained by using defendant’s payroll and personnel records,” court documents report.
In legal filings, the representative plaintiffs accuse AT&T of failing to pay them overtime when they worked over 40 hours in a week, which they say is required under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law that governs overtime requirements in America.
“Defendants knew that the Fair Labor Standards Act required them to pay one-and-one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek and defendants knew that the FLSA required them to maintain true and accurate records,” the plaintiffs claim.
AT&T has the authority to hire and fire call center workers across the country, the plaintiffs allege. The company also has the power to set the rate of payment for representatives through negotiations with the union that represents the employees, including plaintiffs.
Lawsuit Says AT&T Fails To Pay For All Work Time
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that AT&T employs a national database computer system to track and record when employees log in and out of their terminals. This data includes information on employee logouts that occurred after the end of a worker’s scheduled shift, and is used by the defendants to calculate overtime pay, the plaintiffs write. “Such log in and log out data,” they write, “is recorded and stored and will demonstrate the hours of work performed, but not paid, by call center associates, including Plaintiffs.”
A “Force Team” within the company, the plaintiffs continue, use a separate computer software program to track employee attendance and “all time worked beyond scheduled hours,” which must be reported to the Force Team by individual workers on their own behalf, even though AT&T compiles a record of when the employees log out of their programs.
Work performed beyond an employee’s scheduled shift is recorded as an “exception” within AT&T’s software, which is known as IEX. If no “exceptions” are recorded for a worker’s pay period, the lawsuit contends, AT&T pays the worker for their scheduled shift hours, “regardless of the actual hours worked.”
The plaintiffs also claim that AT&T fails to pay them for the considerable amount of time it takes to get ready and prepare for their scheduled shifts to begin. They say that AT&T does not pay them to log into their various software programs in the morning, and that AT&T has also failed to pay them for attending to “desk drops,” promotional materials on the company’s latest deals and customer offers, that they must read before starting to field calls.
Computer System “Rounds” Down Work Hours, Plaintiffs Claim
It is AT&T’s policy of rounding hours, however, with which plaintiffs take the most exception. In order to be converted into payroll data, the hours recorded in the IEX scheduling program are handed off to yet another program, referred to as TVI. According to plaintiffs, “the TVI software platform uses a ’rounding’ function in its conversion process that rounds away time domestic call center employees work after the end of their scheduled shifts, regardless if it was recorded by the employer, self-reported or unreported.” As a result of this “rounding” process, the plaintiffs claim, AT&T is underpaying hundreds of call center workers.