Break times of 5 to 20 minutes are compensable under FLSA if offered by the employer

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Progressive Business Publications, a Malvern, Pennsylvania based marketing company owes at least $1.75M in back wages and damages for docking employee pay for compensable break time. For telemarketing workers of a Malvern publishing company, deciding when to take water, bathroom and rest breaks was a matter of dollars and cents. The workers had their pay docked for virtually all time not spent making sales calls, sometimes bringing their wages below the federal minimum wage.

On December 16, 2015, a federal judge recently found the defendants in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and determined that American Future Systems, doing business as Progressive Business Publications, and its owner, Edward Satell, are liable for pay back wages resulting from these unpaid breaks, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages.

Although the exact amounts have not yet been determined, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that for violations occurring through June 2013, Progressive and Satell are liable for at least $1.75 million in back wages and liquidated damages to more than 6,000 employees who worked in 14 call centers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. Progressive’s refusal to come into compliance for more than two years during the course of the litigation will increase significantly the amount of back wages and damages due its employees as a result of its  pay policy.

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, issued the decision which found that telemarketers had to clock in and out for every break, even those as short as two to three minutes. The timekeeping system then deducted the break time from their total hours worked each week. Thus the employer failed to comply with the FLSA. The court found the company also violated FLSA recordkeeping requirements.

Founded in 1959, American Future Systems is the parent company of Progressive Business Publications, a direct marketing company. Progressive Business Publications publishes subscription-driven, business-to-business newsletters and other publications on business management, sales and marketing, human resources and employment law. One would think that they should know better!

timeclockThe FLSA does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5-to-20 minutes), the law considers the breaks compensable work hours that must be included in the sum of hours for the work week and considered in determining overtime.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. Employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

IMG_3148If you feel that you have not been compensated for the hours you have worked you may call the law office for a FREE strictly confidential consultation about your claim for minimum wage or unpaid overtime wage violations at: (954) 948-8130. Or you can complete the simple form below for submission to us.  Please be advised that by merely submitting this form, no Attorney-Client relationship is formed with the law firm.   You must provide your name,  home or cell phone number, your email address and your zip code in the form.  We look forward to discussing your possible minimum wage and/or overtime pay violations claim. We are passionate about defending and enforcing workers’ rights for unpaid wages.


Are Call Center Employees Covered Under The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ?

What is a call center?

A call center is a central customer service operation where agents (often called customer care specialists or customer service representatives) handle telephone calls for their company or on behalf of a client. Clients may include mail-order catalog houses, telemarketing companies, computer product help desks, banks, financial services and insurance groups, transportation and freight handling firms, hotels, and information technology (IT) companies.

What are the requirements for a call center to be covered by the FLSA?

If the annual dollar volume of a call center’s sales or business is $500,000 or more, and the enterprise has at least two employees, all employees of the enterprise are covered by the FLSA on an “enterprise” basis. An enterprise may consist of one establishment, or it may be made up of multiple establishments.  Additionally, the FLSA also provides an “individual employee” basis of coverage. If the gross sales or volume of business done does not meet the requisite dollar volume of $500,000 annually, employees may still be covered if they individually engage in interstate commerce, the production of goods for interstate commerce, or in an occupation closely related and directly essential to such production. Interstate commerce includes such activities as transacting business via interstate telephone calls, the Internet or the U.S. Mail (such as handling insurance claims), ordering or receiving goods from an out-of-state supplier, or handling the accounting or bookkeeping for such activities.

Do call center employees qualify for overtime pay under the FLSA ?

Yes, in most cases. Covered nonexempt employees are entitled to be paid at least the federal minimum wage as well as overtime pay at time and one-half their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. (This may not apply to certain executive, administrative, and professional employees, including computer professionals and outside sales people).

What are some typical problems that happen at call centers?

Hours Worked:  Covered employees must be paid for all hours worked in a workweek. In general, “hours worked” includes all time an employee must be on duty, or on the employer’s premises or at any other prescribed place of work, from the beginning of the first principal activity of the workday to the end of the last principal activity of the workday. Also included is any additional time the employee is allowed (i.e., suffered or permitted) to work. An example of the first principal activity of the day for agents/specialists/representatives working in call centers includes starting the computer to download work instructions, computer applications, and work-related emails.

Rest and Meal Periods: Rest periods of short duration, usually 20 minutes or less, are common in the industry (and promote employee efficiency), and must be counted as hours worked. Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally need not be compensated as work time as long as the employee is relieved from duty for the purpose of eating a regular meal.

Recordkeeping: A daily and weekly record of all hours worked, including time spent in pre-shift and post-shift job-related activities, must be kept.

Salaried Employees: A salary, by itself, does not exempt employees coverage of the FLSA. Whether employees are exempt from  minimum wage and/or overtime depends on their job duties and responsibilities as well as the way compensation is made. Sometimes, in call centers, salaried employees do not meet all the requirements specified by the regulations to be considered as exempt.

There have been some lawsuits brought recently to recover unpaid overtime pay and pay for work done off the clock. For example,  Sprint/United Managment Co. agreed to a $9 million settlement for overtime pay and APAC Customer Services, Inc. agreed to a $4 million payment for overtime to cover time spent logging into the computer system, performing clerical duties and reviewing company notices prior to logging into the company’s timekeeping system.


8 Telemarketing Employees in Tampa Who Were Misclassified are Awarded $34,235 in Back Pay

If you think you may have a claim or would just like more information about wage labor laws please call  (954) 946-8130 or  submit the confidential “contact us” form below which will arrive at our law offices instantly.    If our office decides to accept your case and we enter into a written, signed retainer agreement you will not have to pay anything unless we win your case. Appointments are available at various locations in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties as well as many other counties throughout Florida.


Owners of the now defunct 1st National Leasing Inc. were  held liable for minimum wage and overtime violations  for telemarketing employees who were misclassified as independent contractors

The DOL complaint filed in federal court alleged that the company had misclassified several FLSA-covered employees as independent contractors. The employees were therefore denied the minimum wage and overtime compensation guaranteed them under the FLSA. The employers also failed to maintain FLSA-required time and payroll records of employees’ wages, work hours and other conditions of employment. The consent judgment resolved a U.S. DOL lawsuit that alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions.

Under the FLSA, an employment relationship must be distinguished from a strictly contractual one where there is an independent contractor relationship. In the application of the FLSA, an employee – as distinguished from a person who is engaged in a business of his or her own – is one who, as a matter of economic reality, follows the usual path of an employee and is dependent on the business/employer that he or she serves.

Solis v 1st National Leasing Inc


Case No. 8:10-cv-00764-VMC-TGW

Date: 2010


*Are Call Center Emplyees Covered Under FLSA?

If you are a telemarketing or call center worker and have been the victim of wage theft by your employer you should consult with an attorney to see if you have any claims.

This post is intended to provide you with information about overtime and wage cases filed throughout the country by other law firms and the government. It serves to give you an idea of the types of issues which are currently being litigated by employment lawyers as well as those which have been “settled.”

As a courtesy to you, we are providing the court name, case number and date filed to facilitate your search for it on the federal PACER website. Current information regarding case status, parties and attorneys is available on PACER to anyone who opens an account with them.

Please also note that some cases we report on were initiated by the Department of Labor and then settled  without having been filed in Federal Court and thus will not be available on the PACER website. For these cases we generally provide a brief summary of the findings and results.

Please feel free to complete the form below for submission to our law firm if you would like more information about your possible employment claim.  A representative will review it and  contact you. Please allow one  business day for someone to contact you and if you do not hear back from us then  it is possible that we did not receive it. This is a FREE consultation and you will not be charged for this call. Also please be advised that, merely by submitting this form, no Attorney-Client relationship is formed with the law firm.  The ONLY way that an Attorney-Client relationship with  the Law Office of Rose H. Robbins is formed is by specifically written  agreement signed by you and the Law Office of Rose H. Robbins.  You must provide your name,  home  or cell phone number and your zip code and all remaining fields are optional.