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“Wage Theft” From Call Center Employees Far Too Common
Call centers have been around since the 1960s, helping streamline corporate operations across many different industries. In recent years, many call center operations have relocated from foreign locations, such as India, to locations within the United States. Unfortunately, although many companies have benefited greatly from their call center employees in terms of increased productivity and profits, far too many of those employees are victims of “wage theft.” Some call center employers take advantage of them in violation of long-standing federal law.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is clear when it comes to defining how employees, such as call center workers, must be paid. Under the FLSA’s continuous workday rule, an employee must generally be paid from the start of the first job activity until the end of last job activity during the workday for work that is integral parts of their jobs, with the exception being deduction in pay for meal breaks of at least 30 minutes where no work is performed.
For example, if a call center employee spends 15 minutes before being allowed to clock in for pay purposes doing things integral to their jobs, such as starting computer programs, reading company memos, doing company paperwork, attending team meetings, etc, that time must be paid. The same principle applies to the end of the workday. Similarly, if the employee eats at his/her desk while working, whether voluntary or at the direction of the employer, then that time must generally be paid. Also, with rare exception, employees must be paid for all rest breaks that are less than 20 minutes during the workday. For example, if an employee takes a 15 minute break to have coffee, or use the restroom, that time must be paid by the employer.
Despite these long-standing rules, many call center employers, in a desire to boost their profit margins, do not pay employees for all of their time “worked.” For call centers which employ thousands of employees, shaving a few minutes per day off of the overtime that should be paid to employees can translate into millions of dollars of ill-gained profits. As a result, workers have filed several lawsuits in recent years that have resulted in millions of dollars in settlements.
All employees are entitled to an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many call center workers across the nation. If you are a call center or customer service employee and feel you are being treated unfairly in violation of the FLSA, the national law firm of Baron & Budd may be able to help.