Regardless of who they work for, call center employees generally have one thing in common: their employers meticulously track employee productivity. Typically, to insure employees are making the most calls possible each day, employers require call center employees not just to arrive at their desks at the start of their shifts, but also to be “call-ready” when their scheduled shifts begins. Being call-ready at the start of the shift requires that employees come in to work approximately 10-15 minutes before the start of their shifts to boot up their computers, load necessary software and review emails and other notices before making a single call. Although such “call-ready policies” are not, in and of themselves improper, they frequently lead to violations of Federal labor laws.
Under Federal law, hourly employees who are entitled to overtime pay must be paid for all of the hours they work. Many call-center employees do not realize that time spent getting call-ready prior to the start of their shifts is compensable work under the Fair Labor Standards Act, even though they are not actually making any phone calls. See 29 C.F.R. § 785.7 and 785.11. Thus, call center employees who perform these tasks prior clocking in for the day typically have not been compensated for up to an hour or more of time worked per week. If the employee had already worked 40 hours that week, this additional time would be compensated at an overtime rate of time-and-one-half the employee’s regular rate of pay. The frequency of these types of violations is demonstrated by several cases which recently have been brought on behalf of call center employees seeking to be compensated for wages they previously earned. See e.g., Evans v. Comcast Corporation, et al., Case No.: 9:12-cv-81203 (S.D. Fla. filed Oct. 30, 2012) and Cooper-Gutteman, et al. v. TMS Health, LLC and Xerox Corp., Case No.: 9:13-cv-81265 (S.D. Fla. filed Dec. 5, 2013).
If you are a call center employee and are required to be call-ready at the start of your scheduled shift but are not compensated for the time it takes you to actually be call-ready, it is best to consult with an attorney immediately so that you don’t miss your opportunity to collect wages you have already earned as there are deadlines within which such actions need to be brought.