A proposed class and collective action claims Lowes Home Centers, LLC has failed to pay call center employees for time spent logging into and out of their computers before and after their shifts and during unpaid breaks.
The case out of New Mexico federal court alleges Lowes has employed an “illegal company-wide policy” that has deprived workers of time-and-a-half overtime pay for off-the-clock work and caused the individuals’ overtime rates to be miscalculated.
“Lowes knowingly and deliberately failed to compensate Plaintiffs and the Putative Class Members for all hours worked each workweek and the proper amount of overtime on a routine and regular basis during the relevant time periods,” the complaint, filed by a former Lowe’s employee, claims.
Lowes employs non-exempt, hourly paid customer service representatives responsible for tendering sales, coordinating deliveries, managing installations, facilitating repair services and answering customers’ inquiries, the case states. According to the suit, however, the home improvement retailer has failed to compensate call center employees for all compensable work hours by requiring that they clock in only once they are ready to take their first call. As a result, the case says, the workers are required to start up their computers, read company emails, open several different computer programs, log in to each program and ensure that the software is running correctly—which can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes—all before clocking in for their shifts.
Per the case, workers who are not ready to take their first call at the start of their shift, or those who clock in prior to their shift start time, are subject to discipline.
“Therefore, the only way to be ready on time, and avoid discipline, is to prepare the computer ‘off-the-clock’ and without pay,” the complaint attests.
The lawsuit says call center workers are required to perform similar off-the-clock work during their 30-minute unpaid lunch breaks, and spend roughly one to three minutes logging out of the phone system and computer applications and logging off their computer before leaving for their break. Workers are then required to spend another one to three minutes at the end of each break logging back into their computers and programs, the suit says. This “lengthy log off and log in procedure” is performed during workers’ breaks and therefore goes uncompensated, according to the suit.
The case goes on to claim that Lowes has a policy and practice of requiring employees to clock out for breaks lasting 20 minutes or less. While the defendant permits workers to take two 15-minute breaks each day, they are required to clock out for “any and all breaks” outside of their two 15-minute breaks, according to the suit. If an employee exceeds their 15-minute breaks by even a minute, the defendant clocks them out and does not pay for the additional minute, the lawsuit alleges.
Per the case, Lowes’ pay policies have resulted in workers not being paid time-and-a-half overtime hours for their off-the-clock work, the amount of which causes their weekly hours to exceed 40.
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