A state-court complaint filed on Wednesday accuses customer service support company Arise Virtual Solutions Inc. and Comcast Cable Communications Management LLC of improperly denying their customer service agents basic bargains of their employment such as minimum wage, overtime, and paid sick leave by misclassifying them as independent contractors.
D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed the suit on behalf of aggrieved workers and seeks relief from violations of the District’s Minimum Wage Revision Act (MWRA) and the Sick and Safe Leave Act (SSLA).
The filing explains that Arise is a customer service support company that contracts with Comcast to outsource the telecom provider’s customer service arm. The complaint claims that Arise bills its business on the premise that it can save client companies like Comcast labor and customer support costs. However, the complaint avers that to deliver on this promise, Arise’s business model “relies on misclassifying agents as independent contractors.”
In particular, the company “targets women of color in their marketing for service agents and then denies those workers the pay and benefits required by District law.” The company allegedly employs several methods to deprive agents of rightfully earned wages, including paying them at hourly rates below the minimum wage, improperly charging them for training and certification fees, mandating that agents to purchase their own work equipment, requiring them to work unpaid hours, such as meeting with supervisors, and docking pay for failure to meet performance standards.
The company’s scheme has allegedly injured at least 180 workers in the District, and according to Racine’s press release, his office continues to investigate Arise for similar violations with other clients. In the instant lawsuit, the attorney general seeks damages for wages owed to agents as a result of the defendants’ minimum wage, overtime, and paid sick leave violations. The plaintiff also requests penalties and an injunction against Arise and Comcast, barring them from continuing to exploit workers through worker misclassification.