Employees hit Dell with class-action lawsuit

Dell "vigorously" denies allegations.

Dell has been hit with a class-action lawsuit filed by workers claiming the computer-maker underpaid its 5,000 call center employees.

The lawsuit was originally filed by two employees in US District Court in Eugene, Ore. in February 2007. This month, the suit was given class-action status so other call center workers at Del can join in.

The suit doesn't seek specific damages, but contends that call center employees are owed at least US$5 million.

"Dell vigorously denies the allegations," said David Frink, a spokesman for Dell, in an e-mail to Computerworld. "We take pride in ensuring that our actions are in compliance with the law." He declined to comment further on the case.

The lawsuit alleges that in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, Dell maintained inaccurate payroll records and denied wages and overtime pay to sales representatives working at its call centers.

The lawsuit contends that Dell's time keeping system does not accurately record the hours worked by call center sales reps, and that the workers are not allowed to correct their records. Only supervisors can change records, it said. In the complaint, the workers contend that such changes are either not made by managers, or are not compiled by the time keeping system.

"Dell has been on notice of the record keeping errors for years but has failed to correct the errors or obtain a new method of time keeping for [sales reps]," the complainants contend.

The suit also charges that the record keeping system automatically deducts an hour for the workers' lunch break even if they do not take a full hour. Workers allege that Dell has known about the problem but have failed to correct it. The suit also contends that workers are not paid to attend mandatory meetings before their shifts begin and they are not compensated for the time it takes them to prepare to take customer calls.

"Dell enjoys ill-gained profits at the expense of its call center employees," the charge claims.

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