PNC Accused Of Stiffing Call Center Workers On OT

Law360—Matthew Santoni

PNC Bank and its parent company failed to pay call center workers for their overtime hours by making them read work-related emails off the clock and keeping them at work during meal breaks, according to a proposed class action filed Friday in Pennsylvania federal court.

The proposed lead plaintiffs — Tonya Herbin, Jennifer Tabor and Brett Tyson — said Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. didn't accurately track all the hours its customer service representatives worked because they weren't allowed to clock in until they were ready to start taking customers' phone calls. But the start of each day involved more than just taking calls, the plaintiffs' suit alleged.

"PNC supervisors know that CSRs routinely work off-the-clock because they instruct CSRs not to clock in for the start of their shift until CSRs boot up their computers, log in to their desktops, load all necessary programs and software, and read all necessary emails and reference materials," the complaint said. "These tasks are required for CSRs to take calls such that they are 'call ready' at the start of their scheduled shifts."

The plaintiffs sought to represent PNC customer service representatives or those with similar titles who either worked in call centers or worked from home, in both nationwide and Pennsylvania-based proposed classes. They alleged that PNC's practices violated both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act.

The complaint said PNC's customer service representatives either worked from call centers or from home, answering customers' questions and providing services regarding PNC's financial and banking products. PNC classified them as non-exempt from the FLSA and PMWA's overtime requirements, but did not accurately track all their hours adding up to overtime, the suit said.

In addition to requiring customer service representatives to complete tasks before officially clocking in, PNC kept call center employees working through their unpaid meal breaks or made them stay past the end of their scheduled shifts without extra compensation, the suit said. That led to employees regularly putting in more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime rates for doing so, the plaintiffs said.

"Plaintiffs' and class members' time worked is not tracked until they clock in on a computer. However, plaintiffs and class members perform and/or performed work without compensation before they clock in on their computers. Additionally, plaintiffs and class members perform and/or performed work during certain uncompensated meal breaks, and after clocking out at the end of their scheduled shifts."

Herbin, Tabor and Tyson estimated that PNC's policies meant they regularly worked between one and a half to three off-the-clock, uncompensated hours a week. All three left PNC in 2018.

The complaint estimated that there were about 1,000 similarly situated customer service reps working for PNC Bank or PNC Financial around the country who could opt in to a collective action under the FLSA. At least 40 people would be included in the proposed Pennsylvania class, the suit said, and all would be identifiable from PNC's employee records.

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The proposed class is represented by Gary F. Lynch of Carlson Lynch LLP, Justin M. Swartz and Cheryl-Lyn D. Bentley of Outten & Golden LLP and Gregg I. Shavitz, Paolo Meireles and Logan A. Pardell of Shavitz Law Group PA.

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The case is Herbin et al. v. PNC Financial Services Group Inc. et al., in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. It had not yet been assigned its own case number as of Friday afternoon.

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