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back to article Dell hit by class action over unpaid overtime

Dell is facing a class action case from 5,000 call centre staff in the US who claim the computer giant has underpaid them since 2004. An Oregon judge - the delightfully-named Thomas Coffin - has certified the case for class action status, which means that most of Dell's US call centre staff from 8 February 2004 to the present …

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Farm it out boys !

I'm sure the Dell management will, in the near future, decide the people of Myanmar (or equivalent) are a lot more flexible in achieving the corporate goals and have more compliant work ethics

The good inhabitants of Oregon better start updating their CV's.

Peer R,

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Anonymous Coward

Great

They'll buy their way out and pretend it never happened.

Expect your new dell pcs to have 3 stickers - TCO'03, designed for vista, and fairtrade.

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Coat

Just One More Way ...

... of keeping cost down and the bottom line up.

With my former employer, I had over 6,000 hours of unpaid OT for thirty-two years service. I was in a position exempt from the US wage and hour laws so I basically had no grounds for a complaint. I took the job voluntarily and I could have quit at any time. But the abuse was still there accompanied by executive arrogance and cheap trinkets.

I wish the Dell employees well; I hope they win their case. But my former employer was taken to court and, well, like I said above, "unpaid".

I've grown to literally hate corporations because of the way they treat people and reward those that set the abusive policies. Even though it's bad economically for me (for us all really) I chuckle when I see the mighty fall. Most of the time that happens because of the incompetence and stupidity of those "leading" companies such as Dell, Seagate, AMD, GM, Ford and others.

Hang in there guys, and start planning for your retirement TODAY. Even in an abusive corporate world retirement can be great. :+)

And yep, I'm one of those seniors (62) plugging away at all this mysterious, geeky computer stuff we have such a hard time with per some responders.

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Coffins

Judge Thomas Coffin might be distantly related to a Bideford family with the frankly unbelievable surname of Pine-Coffin. There's a statue of Colonel Pine-Coffin (a much-decorated Boer war army officer) in the centre of Bideford. Another Pine-Coffin served with distinction in World War II and was known to his plucky troops as "wooden box". I'm not making this up, honestly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Geoffrey_Pine-Coffin

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What did one casket say to the other casket?

Is that you coffin :)

On a serious note, good on them, hope they take Dell to financial hell.

Had dealing with this company and they owe me for several days wasted leave waiting for their overpriced shit to turn up.

(When it did it had to go back as it was damaged.)

Evil Michael Dell icon please.

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Re: Farm it out boys !

So? With only third-world employees earning money, who in the first world is going to buy a Dell?

And Doug, just don't do overtime. What are they going to do? Sack you for not doing something you're not contracted to do? Not give you a payrise (when they aren't going to give you one anyway)?

Or do a Wally on them.

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Thumb Down

Allow the companies to walk all over you and they will

Solution?

When 5 o'clock hits, walk out the door, every single day.

Start staying over to complete work, even stuff you should have finished yourself, and its a downhill slope to being that companies bitch.

And if they start threatening to fire you if you don't stay, start recording the conversations with your phone or something.

Just think of it as a kind of rape-defense.

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Bronze badge
Go

Unpaid overtime? tell me about it.

The number of times I worked 70+ hour weeks when at a Computer Planet *cough* store as a tech, and got paid for 37.5 because I didn't authorise my overtime "in advance" is quite staggering.

Mind you, I was young, naive and not nearly as militant about these things as I am now.

These guys should watch their back though - callcentres, as noted, are easily outsourced, not to mention just plain old resited somewhere that has, shall we say, less restrictive workers rights....

Steven R

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Dead Vulture

Nice line

"Paying employees for all the time they work is not a novel or controversial concept."

Try telling that to my MD

AC for obvious reasons.

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Coat

RE: Re: Farm it out boys !

Were it so easy. Once a large corporation "owns" your soul, you just keep taking the abuse. I have a wife and two kids (both of which have college degrees now) and unless you were actually there with me you can't understand the situation. The choice to simply not do the OT would certainly get you low annual reviews, no raises and no promotions. That's just the way the corporate jungle works in today's world. Growing the company, increasing the bottom line and increasing stockholder worth is what drives companies today. Seldom does the desire to be philanthropic make its way into a company's mission statement, but references to cut costs and enhance profitability do with increasing regularity.

But, I took the crap and retired "early". Basically the date was driven by the formula when retirement net income equaled working take home pay. Don't get me wrong, my salary was quite nice. 6,000 hours over 32 years works out to be about 190 hours per year. That worked out to be approximately 4 hours per week for me. Not a whole lot on a weekly, or daily, basis, but it does add up over 32 years.

The moral of my story is to take care of your future self and start preparing now. I quickly understood the economic situation when I took my job and I started preparing for my 2008 self right then... in 1976. Now, life is great and I have re-purchased my soul.

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Bronze badge

Workers can't give in through fear

It's not a good idea to accept repellent conditions set by Management for fear they will out-source your job. To accept slavery because they might decide to enslave other people is not good for you or the other people. As Adam Smith has pointed out, capitalism requires the desperation of the poor.

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Anonymous Coward

"Unpaid overtime is being professional"

A line I was given at a job interview once. Senior executives have got to eat too you know.

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Don't worry about the staff being outsourced . . . .

. . . they already have been. Roseburg closed last year, five years after opening. Like most Dell call centres, it closed just as the generous tax incentives, "training" subsidies, and free or cheap premises expired, which gullible local politicians provided at taxpayer expense to bring forward-looking high tech employment to their area. Ha Ha.

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Anonymous Coward

Take precautions

I used to run a UK outpost of a US corporation. They fired one of my US peers and pressured me into doing his job long-term in addition to my own - which was a challenge as the US team had significant performance problems. "There will be financial recognition", said my boss. I did it and I was successful, greatly improving the US team's performance. My boss was very pleased with my work, but there was a huge cost in my personal life - I worked 70-80 hour weeks, away from home 8-10 days per month, etc, etc.

Months into the assignment when it was time to talk about money, my boss said they discovered I was previously overpaid and that the pay increase for the extra work exactly balanced it out. What an amazing coincidence! So no extra money despite all that work.

My take-aways from this:

Don't trust your boss even if on the surface he seems like a decent guy

Unless you want to end up like me, get absolutely everything in writing, upfront, every time

Don't work for xxxxxxx Corporation!

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Paris Hilton

Just pay them

I'm surprised they didn't sweep it under the rug and try to settle. I know Dell is on a major cost-reduction mission at the moment, but if work needs doing, then hire people to do the work, or pay those that stay behind to do it.

Paris because she didn't officially get paid for her best work either.

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Paris Hilton

boycott Dell too

There are a million reasons to Boycott Dell, treating the call center employees like trash is just reason one-million and one.

All those extra hours worked unpaid mean nothing to the greed machines. They were ALWAYS going to outsource those jobs anyway.

Paris because she is proof that greed doesn't make you happy or well adjusted.

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Anonymous Coward

Overtime

Unpaid overtime, in the US, falls into two categories: Legal and illegal.

The way the current labor laws work, (and have worked for a while) those call center employees are, to the best of my knowledge, eligible for overtime compensation. Oh, and requiring prior authorization doesn't necessarily mean they don't have to pay you, especially if that was not communicated to you before you put in the overtime, it just means that if you do it after being told about needing that authorization, you can face disciplinary action. Of course, that depends on the country/state/etc you're in.

@Doug Glass: I understand what you went through. I turned down offers from a couple companies I was pretty sure would do that to me. Technically, my current company could, (oh, the joys of being "Exempt") but they seem to have a pretty significant focus on keeping employees happy and productive, part of which is setting realistic goals. It's my responsibility to get those goals accomplished on time, and if I don't, then I need to work overtime or it'll show up on my performance reviews that I didn't get all my work done. That simple.

Posting anon because I should be working on one of those projects right now, but can't seem to motivate myself enough.

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@Doug Glass

But what has the fear given you? No payrise, no chance to be with your family and no option of finding a new job that won't buttfuck you.

Now if you'd not done overtime, you'd have had more time with your family. If necessary you could have taken another part-time job for a short while to tide over life's little problems.

If you'd not done overtime and they looked ready to kick you out, you've got plenty of time to look for another job before they get around to finding out a way to sack you that won't entitle you to any severance pay.

One reason I've not been in your situation is because I've not let that situation start.

I have had to work late for weeks but I've then taken time off and it's only ever been for what I can see is a short-term need. Just because management screwed up doesn't make it my problem. I'll work to fix the problem, but only so far as it looks like either I'll get paid for it, or I'm not being used.

Careful work and the idea that I should always spend LESS than I'm earning means that now my mortgage is low and I have freedom to accept work on conditions I find equitable.

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Anonymous Coward

How it "could" work.

This completely fictional and no one should read this.

Kronos is the application that hourly people use to log their time. The current version "protects" you from putting in too many hours.

If you do put in "too many hours" some how then the payroll admins remove it from your paycheck without telling anyone.

Its upto you to pay attention to your check and ask questions about why it was done.

Alternativly if the application doesnt allow you to put in your hours because they span days they do not have a process to allow you to get the time on your check that pay period.

You have to wait till your check is issued then submit a payroll correction. In all of these instances anyone you talk to in payroll has no idea how the application works on how it calculates time for employees. These are the people to change your paycheck with absolutly no oversight. They dont have to email anyone call anyone or document anywhere that they did it. Your manager even has no idea.

I have seen it take over 6 months to get a payroll correction completed because every time you call the payroll line they never give you their name or contact information and if you somehow do get it they complain to your manager. No one is held accountable and the software was broken purposely in order to keep people from putting "too much time" on their time card even if they work it. NICE.......

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Silver badge

Out at Five

I always used to leave pretty much at 5pm on the dot to make the point. Occasional late days are OK, but it has never been the norm. Now it's a bit more fuzzy, in that some days it's as late as 5:30pm, but then I sort of make up for that by making arrival time fuzzy to compensate. The time from when I get home to my son's bed time is family time, the reason I usually give for the prompt departure, although I have been known to sit down and telework in the evenings after that time (it's usually more interesting than the TV and a lot more efficient than daytime work because there are no interruptions).

I did once work for a company that had a general policy that flying to North America from the UK should be done on Saturday because they saved money on flights compared to flying on Sunday (airline fares were cheaper if the stay included Saturday night). I just told my boss that I'd fly on Sunday for no extra charge but if I had to give up the whole weekend then I'd have two days off in lieu when I got back from the trip. I never had to fly out on a Saturday...

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Coat

Overtime

At a Chicago company it was no unusual for me to work 100 hour work weeks and NO OT. I can also sympathize with Dell people.BTW I was laid off from the same company because I made the other people look bad because I put in so much OT.

In the end I was glad as I got out and the people who got rid of me ended up getting fired (or laid off). I got a nice severance package but not even close payment for all the OT. I was taken to the cleaners.

Oh yes in a right to work state you cannot dispute for getting fired unless its race or similar issue related I believe, so Dell could have sacked the people that did not work OT and really did not have to worry about it.

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