The Ordeals of Underpaid Customer Service Employees

Underpaid Customer Service EmployeesCustomer service is an often-thankless occupation and to make matters worse, it is an underpaid one too. While those who answer customer questions, solve technical issues, and monitor complaints are essential to business, but the denial of overtime pay and other wage violations are too common among this group.

Fortunately, class certification and settlements arise from New York Labor Law and Fair Labor Standards Act claims. This allows workers options and the ability to enforce the fair payment of their wages. Here are the cases influencing that trend and how they can help you if you face similar challenges.

The Problem

Companies take advantage of workers by limiting the type of work that is recorded on the clock. Wages do not accrue until workers finish booting up their computers and log into the system. This takes up enough time that overtime claims are successfully addressed.

Other unpaid tasks include clerical work and making notes on telephone calls. The result is customer service workers accruing over 40 hours a week with the benefit of overtime. These claims are also frequently successful.

Three major cases show the common occurrence of these poor wage practices:

  • Sprint Nextel Corp. Workers in the opening shifts were required to boot up computers and get systems running. Time spent during these activities were unpaid, so a California federal court certified a class action. Sprint settled these claims.
  • APAC. Practices at this customer service firm encouraged employees to perform clerical tasks off-the-clock. Only time spent on telephone calls was paid. Like the Sprint case, APAC settled these claims before the matter went to court.
  • Bloomberg. This is the most recent wage claim class action suit filed by underpaid customer service employees. Certified by a New York Federal Judge this September, employees were classified as exempt and denied overtime. The case is still in process.

Wage issues with call centers and customer service are so common, the Department of Labor issued a fact sheet regarding the treatment of these workers. Since exemptions to overtime pay rarely apply in these cases, it is likely that if you find yourself in this situation with call center work, your employer owes you overtime pay too.

Ending the Underpayment Cycle

There are two possible exemptions to overtime pay when it comes to call centers and customer service. One is the administrative exemption. That relates to office or non-manual work that directly affects business operations. Accounting, human resources, advertising, and quality control can fall under this exemption.

It is often difficult to make this exemption work since customer service workers rarely have the professional discretion assigned to most administrative employees. That often leads to employers claiming customer service employees are commissioned and fall under that exemption. However, for that to work, an employee’s salary must be at least half commissions and the regular rate of pay exceeds one and half times the amount of the minimum wage.

Few call center and customer service employees fall under these exemptions. Chances are, if you are not receiving overtime pay or must complete several tasks before you are allowed to clock in, your employer is violating labor laws.

Know for certain if you are receiving proper wages. Contact the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis and receive a free case evaluation by calling (646) 430-7930.