State Laws/Franchising

Judge Approves Class Action Lawsuit Against Charter

3/17/2008 1:03 PM Eastern

Class action status has been approved for a complaint by Charter Communications Inc. technicians and installers, who allege that the operator's policies regarding the company vehicles that workers took home caused the technicians to work off the clock.

The class action certification, approved March 3 by Judge Barbara Crabb of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, applies to broadband technicians, senior systems technicians, installers and installer/repairmen who took a company trucks home overnight.

The named plaintiff is Maurice Sjoblom of Beloit, Wis., but the judge ruled that alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act may have occurred in Charter's dealings with field workers across the country.

In the suit, filed in 2007, attorneys for the workers allege that Charter has a task-based quota system for field workers. Raises and promotions are based on meeting the quotas, they note. But points are not assigned for necessary tasks such as loading and unloading equipment from company trucks at a worker's home.

Charter holds workers responsible for hardware in their possession, and requires that workers secure the equipment in their homes if they take vehicles overnight. Workers are given no time credit for loading and unloading the trucks, travel time or for maintenance of the trucks, the workers' suit alleges.

Also, the workers said they felt compelled to do inventory and other paperwork before going on the clock, in order to leave time to complete their points-earning assigned tasks for the day.

Attorneys for the workers have until May 15 to solicit for class members.

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