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Former APAC employees sue call center

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Published - Saturday, May 30, 2009


Former APAC employees sue call center

By Kevin Murphy | Special to the Tribune

MADISON -- Employees of a La Crosse call center claim they worked up to 45 minutes a day on “essential company tasks” without pay, in violation of federal law, according to a lawsuit filed this week.


APAC Customer Services Inc. has a company-wide policy that requires them to log onto their computers, review work notices, and complete other “essential tasks,” before their shift and compensation begins, said George Hanson, the attorney who filed the class-action lawsuit Tuesday in federal court.


“The typical amount of time they’re not compensated on a daily basis is 45 minutes,” said Hanson.


APAC has operated call centers in La Crosse and Green Bay in Wisconsin, plus Davenport and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and in seven other U.S. cities. Its 9,000 employees provide phone-based customer support services for other firms, including making sales and answering billing inquires. The suit seeks to include all affected workers APAC employed from to May 26, 2006, to present.


Hanson said his four clients -- Tiffany Sharpe, Kathleen Woods, Melvin Woods Jr. and Jennifer Kasch -- are former APAC La Crosse employees.


The suit claims the employees are required to continually update themselves with frequently changing billing rates, equipment prices and repair policies in order to answer questions from client customers. However, time spent reviewing the notices and training material generally is not recorded or compensated.


Instead, the employees are expected to update themselves before or after their shifts or while on breaks.


APAC pays its employees on an hourly basis and classifies them as non-exempt from overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Failure to pay them for all hours worked, or time and a half for anything over 40 hours a week, violates the FLSA.


The FLSA also prohibits employers from taking adverse action against employees who raise complaints about their wage and hours rights, said Hanson.


Robert Nachwalter, APAC’s general counsel, said the company doesn’t comment on litigation.


In addition to seeking damages for uncompensated hours worked in the past three years, the suit also seeks a court order to prohibit APAC from further violations of state and federal wage laws.


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