ST. LOUIS — In the class action filed in 2012, call center operators at a Citicorp Credit Services, Inc. run site claim the company failed to pay the employees for time spent logging in and out of their computers at the beginning and end of their shifts. This practice allegedly accounts for about 10 to 20 minutes a day of “off-the-clock” work. The call center operators are seeking back pay along with attorneys’ fees and costs.
Citigroup Inc.’s request came after the call center employees, including the recently rehired lead plaintiff, signed a new arbitration agreement with the company in 2013. The company updated its employment contracts to include a class action waiver and an arbitration clause. A class waiver prevents employees from forming and bringing class action lawsuits, while an arbitration agreement would require disputes go through arbitration instead of going to court.
Recently, federal court judges have allowed and enforced class action waivers and arbitration agreements, which have prevented some employees from collectively suing their employers for unpaid wages and break periods. However, the court looks closely at these agreements to determine if an employee was coerced into signing the agreements and waivers before they enforce them. According to the Kentucky federal court judges, it might be possible for a company to use a new arbitration or class waiver in an updated agreement to force arbitration on an old lawsuit. But, the new waiver or arbitration clause would need to specifically address previous disputes or claims that occurred before the agreement was signed.
In this instance, Citigroup’s updated agreement only addresses disputes that “arise”; it does not address disputes that arose in the past. Additionally, it is unlikely that the plaintiff would sign the new agreement if he believed it would apply to the current lawsuit, and Citicorp did not prove that it intended the agreement to apply to past disputes. The Kentucky federal court judges ruled that the company cannot use this new agreement to force an on-going lawsuit into arbitration.
It is important to read employment and arbitration agreements prior to signing them. It is also important to read any notices you receive in regards to class actions and settlement offers. One word can make a major difference in how you may enforce your rights against an employer. If you believe you have been denied overtime, contact our experienced team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page and our knowledgeable legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.