A proposed collective action filed in Texas seeks to represent roughly 130 AT&T call center employees who the plaintiff alleges were not properly paid for all hours worked. Filed against AT&T Corp., AT&T Inc., Southwestern Bell Telephone L.P., DirectTV LLC and AT&T Services, Inc., the lawsuit says the companies, rather than pay call center workers accurate wages based on the number of hours worked, instead pay based on an individual’s scheduled shift times regardless of work done before clocking in and after clocking out.
“[The defendants’] practice of rounding and failing to pay for time worked pre-shift and post-shift and instead rounding the time for which it would compensate [the plaintiffs] to their scheduled shift time is wide-spread and has occurred for a significant period of time during the last three years,” according to the case.
In describing call center workers’ daily routines, the complaint says the employees are expected to be at “ready and available” status to receive phone calls by the beginning of their scheduled shift times. The case adds call center workers are carefully monitored by supervisors “to determine their readiness for work” at the beginning of their shift times and must have computers and required programs up and running before the end of a two-minute grace period. If workers are not ready and available within this two-minute grace period, the lawsuit says, they are considered late for work.
The plaintiff argues that although workers are given this ostensible grace period, the two minutes are insufficient to allow for the time necessary for workers to achieve “ready and available” status. Moreover, this two-minute period allegedly goes untracked by the defendants in their payroll timekeeping system. The plaintiff goes on to claim the defendants not only require call center workers to log out of their “ready and available” status for both of their daily 15-minute breaks and for meal periods, but mandate the employees log out within one minute of the end of their scheduled shift times.
According to the lawsuit, call center employees frequently perform work during logged-out meal periods and past the end of their shifts. If they wish to be compensated for this post-shift work, the lawsuit says, call center employees must email a management group called the “Force Team” with a message detailing the amount of time they worked past the end of their shifts. Even though the defendants keep detailed electronic records of the actual time call center workers log out of “ready and available” status, emailing management is apparently the only way for the employees to receive appropriate pay for post-shift work, the lawsuit says.
Despite having detailed records of the time call center employees spend working, the defendants allegedly pay the employees based on their scheduled shift times—and not their actual time spent working. The plaintiff estimates that she worked a minimum of two hours of overtime per week without being paid time-and-a-half wages.