Our firm was recently approached by a customer service specialist at TD Bank who claimed she was required to show up twenty-five (25) minutes before her scheduled shift to boot up computers. Despite having to arrive early, her superiors informed her that she was not allowed to clock-in until five minutes before her scheduled shift time. If accurate, TD Bank was improperly withholding at least two hours of wages each week from its customer service specialists. And, as a non-exempt employee she would be entitled to time and a half for all hours over 40/week.
While most employees allow this practice to occur without complaint, this particular customer service representative filed a complaint with The New Jersey Division of Wage/Hour. No matter what bank employs you, and whether you work in the IT department, credit card department, direct deposit, online banking, customer service – if your employer requires you to leave early, stay late or sit by the phone without pay, your employer is violating the law, and you are not receiving your full wages. As someone who deals with hundreds of customer complaints and issues every day, customer service specialists should also have someone to hear their complaints. Customer service specialists in all industries should be paid for all their hours and paid overtime, even when they are not on the phone with a customer. For that matter, all employees- whether you work as a customer service specialist or at a call center or as an IT professional- must be paid for actual time worked.
Recently, these types of lawsuits are becoming more commonplace as employers seek ways to save money in this difficult economy. Last month in New York and in Nevada, security guards at Madison Square Garden and the Tropicana Casino filed a class action seeking overtime pay for off-the-clock security briefing for fifteen (15) minutes prior to their shifts. In Minnesota, a federal judge denied to decertify a class of more than 1500 call-center employees who alleged that they had not been paid for time spent starting and turning off their computers. And in Arkansas, a federal judge granted class certification to employees who alleged that they were not paid for time putting on and taking off their uniforms and protective equipment. Even more recently, one of Amazon.com’s warehouse associates filed a lawsuit for unpaid overtime, alleging that Amazon’s rounding policy, which rounds to the nearest fifteen minutes, violates the FLSA. Like TD Bank, the lawsuit alleges that Amazon.com forbids its employees from clocking-in early, creating a situation where those employees who get in line first to clock-in are paid for their entire shift – but those who are at the end of the line – lose fifteen (15) minutes.
Moreover, the FLSA allows recovery for unpaid overtime for hours worked over 40 hours in a week. Therefore, if unpaid wages add up to time over and above 40 hours – you are also entitled to time and a half. For example, if an employee is scheduled to work a 40 hour week but has to stay longer than eight (8) hours to log off, clean up, undress, etc., the employee may have a claim for unpaid overtime in addition to unpaid wages.
If you were denied wages or overtime wages as a result of the above practices, contact us at Pogust, Braslow & Millrood.