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Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against American Express

A recent class action federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona alleges that a company owned by American Express is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Employee Retirement Income Security Act, because employees were required to work "off the clock and through lunch breaks," according to TMCnet. The employees at American Express Travel Related Services, which is a subsidiary of American Express, say that the company intentionally failed to include time worked at the beginning and end of employee's shifts.

"Travel Related Services pay policies don't allow call center employees to count as time worked things most workers would get paid to do...like talking to American Express' clients," employment lawyer Anne Regan told TMCnet. "They are clearly owed these unpaid wages."

Ms. Regan is just one one of the attorneys hired to represent these employees. The lawyers working on this case believe that there could be hundreds of employees around the country that have been affected by the American Express company’s employee wage policies.

The plaintiffs in this action are seeking back pay and other damages, which have not been finalized, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. Christa Burkhalter, director of corporate affairs and communications for American Express told the Journal that the company now plans to "defend this case very vigorously."

Payment of wages and overtime is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), which governs who is eligible to get overtime payment and who is exempt. Generally, exempt employees are not entitled to earn overtime wages. Exempt employees are those that work in managerial positions or are professionals.

Here, the employees are claiming that they were forced to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay, or pay in general. Also, the employees claiming lost wages were call center workers, which is a position that usually does not involve a professional degree or overseeing other employees. Therefore, it seems as though the employees have a good case that they should have been paid overtime.

If there's one thing that an employee will get upset about, it's not being paid. Perhaps American Express should take its slogan to heart and make its employees whole.

July 2012 Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated by John List, Esq. to ensure relevancy of content and that law cited is current.

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