Telephone agents employed at brick-and-mortar call centers or in work-at-home positions are susceptible to wage theft.
Customer service is critical to many companies’ operations, which has caused the call center industry to grow significantly. Some companies staff their own call centers, while others contract with business process outsourcing providers.
With job titles such as agent, associate, representative, advisor, and specialist, and responsibilities that include customer care, client services, and technical support, call center personnel handle a variety of inbound and outbound telephone duties.
To track their hours, call center companies require workers to log in and out of computer systems at the beginning and end of their shifts. But employees are often forced to perform job-related tasks before logging in, after logging out, and when they are disconnected from the systems – time that isn’t recorded and for which the workers aren’t paid.
The problem is so pervasive that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division issued a Fact Sheet describing call center pay practices that violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, such as failing or refusing to pay telephone agents and representatives for time spent:
- Booting up computers and logging into company software applications
- Downloading daily work instructions
- Communicating offline with technical support when their computers go down, when they experience software issues, or when they are disconnected from networks and systems
- Reading work-related emails before and after their shifts
- Logging out of software applications and shutting down computers
Call center employers also violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state wage and overtime laws by making agents and representatives work through meal and rest breaks without pay.
It is estimated that these unpaid “off the clock” activities can often account for 30 minutes or more of unpaid time each day, and may include overtime for which workers must be paid 150% of their base hourly rate.
Call center and business process outsourcing companies that have been sued for wage and hour violations include but are not limited to:
- ACD Direct, Inc.
- Affiliated Computer Services, Inc.
- Alpine Access
- Ansafone Contact Centers
- Auto Club Group
- Call Center International (CCI)
- Dialog Direct
- Direct Interactions
- Great VirtualWorks
- Huntington Bank
- Kaiser Permanente
- LiveOps, Inc.
- Micah Tek, Inc.
- Minacs Group, Inc.
- Novo 1
- One Contact, Inc.
- Talk2Rep Inc.
- VIPdesk Connect, Inc.
- Working Solutions