lawyers labor

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.

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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.

Nursing home to pay $54,000 in back wages to 66 workers for “meal breaks” violations

King’s Daughters and Sons Home

WAGE AND HOUR DIVISION (WHD), U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

Release Number: 12-98-ATL (026)

January 30, 2012

In January 2012, King’s Daughters and Sons Home, located in Bartlett, Tenn.,   agreed to pay $54,081 in back wages to 66 current and former employees following a U.S. Department of Labor investigation that found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime provisions. The Bartlett nursing home provides residential services to individuals with physical disabilities.

The Wage and Hour Division of the DOL determined that even though employees had worked through their meal breaks the employer had deducted 30 minutes per day from their work hours for those periods. This failure to pay for all hours worked resulted in employees not receiving one and one-half times their regular rates of pay for hours beyond 40 in a week, as required by the FLSA.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.

If you are a nursing home 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.

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US Labor Department finds Knoxville, Tenn., misclassfication, security company owes $62,000 in back wages to 34 guards misclassified as independent contractors

Jan. 9, 2012

Custom Security Solutions Inc. has agreed to pay $62,038 in back wages to 34 security guards after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the employees were improperly classified as independent contractors and consequently denied minimum wage and overtime wages due under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Custom Security Solutions provides guard services for Premium Coal Co. at its mining sites and washing and loadout plants in Anderson, Scott and Campbell counties.

“Increasingly, employers are categorizing their employees as independent contractors to avoid paying them in compliance with the FLSA, as well as other federal, state and local statutes,” said Sandra Sanders, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Nashville District Office. “Misclassification costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year in uncollected employment taxes, and gives unscrupulous employers an unfair advantage. The Wage and Hour Division is vigorously pursuing corrective action in those situations when workers are, in fact, employees, to ensure that they are paid required wages and level the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”

The division’s investigators determined that the 34 employees were paid a “straight time” rate for all hours worked instead of time and one-half their hourly rates for hours over 40, as required by the FLSA. This practice resulted in the employees being owed $61,937 in overtime back wages. Additionally, one of the employees was not paid the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, and is also owed $101 in minimum wage payments.

In addition to paying the back wages, the company agreed to maintain future compliance by ensuring employees are properly classified and compensated for all hours worked in accordance with the FLSA.

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is an alarming trend, particularly in industries that often employ low-wage, vulnerable workers and in which the Wage and Hour Division historically has found significant wage violations. The practice is a serious threat both to employees entitled to good and safe jobs, as well as to employers who obey the law. Misclassified employees often are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, and are forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay. Misclassification also creates a competitive disadvantage for employers who comply with the law.

Under the FLSA, an employment relationship must be distinguished from a strictly contractual one. 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 that he or she serves. For more information, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs13.htm.

The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their hourly rates of pay for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Additionally, accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment must be maintained.

Our firm will prosecute class  and collective actions on behalf of aggrieved employees. We will undertake any litigation arising from this investigation on a contingent fee basis. If a lawsuit is filed as a result of this investigation, we will only seek payment of any fees from recovery generated by the lawsuit. This means any fee we receive will be paid by the defendant or out of any settlement or judgment recovered.  Likewise, all costs will be advanced by us. If an action is filed and not successful, you would not be responsible for any of our fees or costs. If you wish to discuss this investigation and any potential legal options you may have, or if you have any questions please contact our law office.

You may contact the Law Offices of Rose H. Robbins for a free consultation to see if you have a case for unpaid overtime or minimum wages by calling (954) 946-8130 or by filling out the confidential “contact us” form below which will arrive at our law offices instantly. You may email us too: rose (at) roserobbins.com   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.