suit may win class status
If enough call-center workers sign on, the suit over overtime
pay will get class-action certification.
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
A federal judge in Minnesota has granted conditional
class-action certification to a lawsuit that alleges Qwest
failed to pay its call-center employees for overtime work.
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis wrote in an order, issued July
27, that the plaintiffs established a basis that they are
victims of a single, nationwide policy by Qwest to illegally
withhold overtime pay.
According to the suit, Qwest pays its call-center employees
based on the time they are logged in to their computer phone
systems and doesn't track or pay employees for work performed
when they're not logged in.
"We will vigorously defend ourselves in this matter but will not
comment on the particulars," Qwest spokesman Bob Toevs said
The lead plaintiff is Oakdale, Minn., resident Felicia Burch, a
current Qwest call-center employee who has worked for the
company since December 2003.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs say more than 8,000 current and
former Qwest call-center workers across 13 states may be
affected, including in Colorado.
In granting the conditional class status, Davis ordered
Denver-based Qwest to turn over contact information for current
and former call-center employees dating back to Aug. 30, 2003.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs will then mail information to those
workers so they can opt in to the suit if they believe they have
In order to win final class certification, the response to the
opt-in effort has to be significant, said lead plaintiff
attorney Jim Kaster.
"If this claim is as meritorious as what we've been led to
believe so far, then I would expect to see the sign-up rates
(reach a) thousand or more," said Kaster, an attorney with
Nichols Kaster & Anderson in Minneapolis.
Forty current and former employees from eight Qwest call-center
locations have already filed consent forms to join the suit,
including five from Colorado, Kaster said.
Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or