Kaiser Cheats Its Call Center Reps, Class Action Claims
By Ramona Young-Grindle
OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - Kaiser demands that its call center representatives perform certain pre- and post-shift tasks off the clock and during meal breaks, according to a class action. The employment suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California San Francisco/Oakland Division as a collective and class action, and as a representative action under the Private Attorney General Act.
Debra Wolf, representing herself and a class of others similarly situated, sues The Permanente Medical Group for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the California Labor Code, the California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 4, and the California Business & Professions Code.
According to the action, Kaiser offers call center services to its patients, and employs telephone service representatives to handle the patient calls. Some phone reps work in brick-and-mortar facilities in Vallejo, San Jose and Sacramento, California, and “remote” reps work mostly from home. All reps have the same duties and use similar computer systems, software programs, applications and phone systems.
Plaintiff and class representative Wolf, who is currently employed as a Kaiser phone rep, regularly works four days a week from home, and from a facility in San Jose one day per week, according to the action.
Wolf says that before they are allowed to clock in, reps have to start-up and log into their computers, as well as turn on multiple programs and applications, and that they perform similar tasks off the clock during their meal breaks and after their shifts. Additionally, those reps working in facilities are not paid for time spent locating equipment, those working from home that have to drive into a facility are not paid for their drive time, and all reps are not paid for time spent after their shifts shredding and disposing of patient notes, she says.
Phone reps use multiple computer programs, software programs and applications, and it takes time to boot up and log onto each one, and to shut-down and log out of them, the action claims. If technical issues arise, including frequent program updates, the time employees spend before or after they log in or out is even longer, according to the suit. As reps are required to work full-time shifts while they are on the clock, all the extra time they work off the clock would be compensated at the overtime rate if they were paid for it, Wolf says. The unpaid minutes can add up to several hours per paycheck. Since employees also have to do this extra work during their meal breaks, Kaiser is also not providing a full uninterrupted meal break to these employees, according to the action. “The aggregate claims of the individual class members exceed the sum value of $5,000,000 exclusive of interest and costs,” the action claims.
Wolf seeks damages and penalties for failure to pay overtime wages, failure to pay minimum wages and regular wages for all hours worked, unlawful deductions, failure to provide meal breaks, failure to provide accurate wage statements, and unfair business practices, as well as interest and legal costs. Plaintiff also seeks an injunction to stop defendant from continuing the unfair business practices.
Wolf is represented by Kevin J. Stoops and Jason T. Thompson of Sommers Schwarz PC in Southfield, Michigan, and by Jahan C. Sagafi of Outten & Golden LLP in San Francisco, California.