Comcast, customer service contractor targeted by civil lawsuit

Comcast and Arise Virtual Solutions, one of the cable company’s contractors, are facing a civil lawsuit over allegations that they failed to pay legally owed salaries to certain customer service representatives.

The lawsuit (PDF) was filed January 19 in the Superior Court of the Civil Division of the District of Columbia and was led by Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine.

It alleges that Arise and Comcast denied customer service agents minimum wage, overtime and paid sick leave by falsely labeling them as independent contractors rather than employees. The lawsuit further alleges that Arise targets women of color in its marketing for service agents and then denies those workers the pay and benefits required by district law.

The civil suit seeks damages for wages owed to agents as a result of Arise and Comcast’s alleged violations of minimum wage, overtime and paid sick leave.
(Source: DecaStock/Alamy Stock Photo)

Arise’s approach allegedly injured at least 180 workers in the district, according to the complaint, which characterizes Arise as a “gig economy” company. Arise’s customer base also includes giants like Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Disney, Home Depot, and Walgreens.

Comcast and Arise were asked to comment.

“Systematic” misclassification reduces labor costs and claims

Arise’s decision to “systematically misclassify” employees as independent contractors allows Arise to reduce labor costs below the amount its workers are entitled to under district law, according to the lawsuit. These rights include a minimum wage which is currently set at $15.20 per hour and overtime pay of at least 1.5 times their normal rate. The complaint claims that certain Arise agents who provided customer support to Comcast earned a rate of $6 for each 30-minute shift, or $12 per hour.

The lawsuit also alleges that Arise employees are required to pay additional fees to pass criminal background and background checks, to pass a $99 introductory training course and other hours of compensable labor that further reduce an agent’s actual hourly wage. Harsh working conditions were also cited, including allegations that Arise “maintains significant power and control over its agents” by using performance metrics that are “skewed in favor of Arise.”

The lawsuit holds Comcast liable because it jointly employs Arise agents who provide customer support services to the cable operator and exercises “substantial control over their working conditions, from hiring to performance and until termination”. Comcast, according to the lawsuit, also requires Arise agents to complete mandatory certification courses and pass mandatory assessment tests created and maintained by Comcast.

Comcast exercises “significant control over the working conditions of Arise agents,” the lawsuit says, requiring them to own two monitors, headphones, and a certain amount of hard drive space on their computers, and requiring them to adhere to requirements. hourly minimums for weekend shifts.

“Thus, for Arise’s agents who provided customer support services to Comcast, Comcast was a joint employer also liable for Arise’s violations of district wage and hour laws,” the suit alleges.

Claim for damages and injunction

The lawsuit is seeking damages for wages owed to officers due to alleged violations of minimum wage, overtime and company-paid sick leave. He is also seeking an injunction against Arise and Comcast that would end the so-called “misclassification program.”

For violations of the District Minimum Wage Review Act, the law provides penalties of $50 for first violations or $100 for subsequent violations of the minimum wage and overtime violation elements, according to the lawsuit. , plus damages of $500 for each accrued paid illness. day off denied.

The district office noted that it has launched more than 50 investigations into wage theft and payroll fraud since obtaining an independent authority to do so in 2017.

In January 2020, the bureau won its largest wage theft settlement to date, forcing Power Design to pay hundreds of workers $2.75 million over allegations of wage theft and worker misclassification. He also sued Instacart for including a service charge that looked like tips that instead went to Instacart’s profit base, and recovered around $1.5 million in restitution that was returned to drivers. DoorDash to replace tips the company had kept for itself.

—Jeff Baumgartner, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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