Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What is Work at a Call Center? A Million Dollar Suggestion


Actually what is work at a call center remains an open question, but just how serious a question is indicated by news of a $1 million plus settlement by healthcare giant Humana, Inc. as reported in the Louisville Courier Journal, Humana reaches back-wages deal. What was at issue?
The workers were not paid for time spent powering up computer equipment, logging on to the network and bringing up programs necessary for their work. "They can't do their job" without performing those duties, "so that's considered work time," said Jo Anne Burgoyne, a spokeswoman for the Labor Department's office in Atlanta.
The FLSA continues to be a major area of serious, i.e. big dollar, litigation for employers.

Attention will again be focused on the issue of what is work when the Supreme Court takes up two cases on whether employees are required to be paid for certain waiting time in Tum v. Barber Foods and IBP v. Alvarez next term, as I reported here when certiorari was granted. A year before the Supreme Court granted cert, I had called Tum "a solid win for the employer, Doffing & Donning, Walking & Waiting - A Hit At the Chicken Plant, so it would be nice to have a Supreme Court affirmation, rather than more fuel being thrown on what to many employers is feeling more and more like a hot flame.

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