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American Airlines Faces Class Action Lawsuit From Customer Service Reps Who Were Made to Log On Before Being Paid

American Airlines Faces Class Action Lawsuit From Customer Service Reps Who Were Made to Log On Before Being Paid

American Airlines is facing a class action lawsuit over allegations that it unlawfully made customer service representatives at a call center in Tempe, Arizona, do unpaid work because it required workers to boot up their computers and be signed in and ready to start taking calls before their paid work day officially started.

The lawsuit is being brought by Skylar Hartwig who has worked as customer relations service representative at the Dallas Fort Worth-based airline since 2015.

For the past eight years, Hartwig claims supervisors told him and his colleagues that they were required to boot up their work computers and sign into a variety of applications in order to be ready to start work before the official start of their shifts.

Supervisors instructed employees at the Tempe call center to start this process 15 minutes before they would officially start to be paid, and if they managed to log in within that time frame, they would be required to start taking calls straight away.

In late 2022, Hartwig started to record the short periods of time that he was ‘working’ without being paid and presented these records to his bosses. American Airlines says it was prepared to pay Hartwig for the times he kept his own records but refused to pay him for additional hours worked prior to October 2022.

Hartwig claims American Airlines has breached the Fair Labor Standards Act which is designed to prevent employers from taking advantage of workers.

The question of whether employers can ask workers to boot up computers and sign into various IT systems before they start getting paid has cropped up time and time again, resulting in a fair amount of case law on the subject – especially in relation to call center employees.

In broad terms, courts will look at whether the extra work that employees are being asked to be is considered ‘de minimis’ – in other words, is it just so trivial or inconsequential that the legal system shouldn’t need to address the complaint?

In 2021, the 10th Circuit Appeals court backed call center employees, concluding that if workers regularly have to boot up their computers for the same amount of time, then that counts as a work task that should be paid.

Other courts have suggested that 10 minutes or more of pre-work system setup is the point at which employees should be paid for these activities.

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