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AT&T technicians file lawsuit over lunch policy

August 17, 2012

Eleven AT&T technicians have filed a federal lawsuit seeking class-action status to collect unpaid wages and overtime, alleging the company compels them to work during unpaid lunch breaks.

The suit seeks to represent 1,300 AT&T technicians in Indiana.

The suit filed Aug. 10 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana also alleges technicians face discipline if they drive their GPS-monitored company vehicles more than a half-mile from their routes to take a break.

“The company’s productivity-based performance ranking system puts the technicians under significant pressure to work through the unpaid lunch breaks in order to complete as many jobs as possible in each work shift,” alleges the suit.

These include technicians who install AT&T’s U-verse service, a collection of of Internet, phone and television offerings.

The technicians allege that by not paying for time allocated “to the technicians’ so-called meal breaks, AT&T Midwest has failed to pay the technicians’ time-and-half-for all such hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a single work week.”

The complaint alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standard Act and violations of Indiana’s wage and record-keeping laws.

Technicians seek time-and-a-half pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours a week and damages, but do not specify a dollar amount.

AT&T has to yet to file a formal response to the complaint.

Company spokesman Marty Richter said:  “AT&T is committed to full compliance with all federal and state laws, including the wage and hour laws, and has received numerous awards for being an employer of choice.”

Plaintiffs are Deborah Sturgeon, Sara Gail Mercer, Michelle Ballard, Angie Nelson, John Stewart Jr., Rickey Hays, Levi Haynes, Jason Hampton, Jonathan Julian, Victor Sparks and Tamika Liebhart.

The suit also contends that under rules “designed and enforced to preserve the company’s public image” that employees on unpaid lunch break may not use personal laptops or read books or newspapers while in an AT&T vehicle. 

Restrictions on movement or activity during breaks “substantially” interfere with the technicians’ ability to use the unpaid lunch break for eating lunch or other personal business, the complaint states.

It also alleges employees while on unpaid break may not use the vehicle’s air conditioning or heating, regardless of the weather.

Plaintiffs are represented by Indianapolis attorney Kimberly Jeselskis.

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