Friday

Work at Home Company Sued!

Liveops has prevailed in the lawsuit! To read the article click here!

(Note: This post has received an update. To view it, either go to the main page, or click here.)

I was just looking though the news, and I noticed that Liveops, one of the best work at home phone order companies in my opinion, is being sued! According to Justia Federal District Court Filings & Dockets, Jeannette Gonzalez and Tammy Kerce are the plaintiffs. The lawsuit was filed on December 3, 2007. The presiding judge will be Judge Anthony A. Alaimo.

In addition, one of the plaintiffs of the Liveops lawsuit, Tammy Kerce, appears to also have filed a suit against West at Home, another call company. (Seems like someone's a little sue happy.)

According to the Houston Chronicle:
"two agents in Georgia contends they don't even earn the minimum wage when their training time and nonpaid downtime between calls are factored in. The two women argue they're employees — not independent contractors — and are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay."

Though these women might be making some points, I think they are clearly off! The Fair Labor Standards act applies only to employees. When they signed up to work for Liveops, they signed a contract, and I clearly remember reading something similar to "I agree that I will be working as an independent contractor, and not a a paid employee. I agree that I will be paid on a case by case basis" (It sounded similar to that when I applied.)
Now, I understand that in some states, agents would be considered employees, even if they signed a contract saying that they are only independent contractors, but if these people hate the job so much, they should go work for someone else! This is how I think it is when you work at home!
Instead, it looks like they're making all of the rest of us agents look bad. I have no idea where they got the idea that they were employees. Liveops makes it clear even in their faq's that we are all independent contractors, though this is a fine line, if you look at how the IRS defines an independent contractor vs. an employee.

A while back, West at Home got in some trouble similar to this, and because of it they changed lots of their agents into employees with fixed pay. Now, I don't know about you, but I like being able to have no limit on how much money I make per hour!

These women need to get a day job at a physical workplace, and let people who enjoy what they are doing work at home!

To view the public records of the court filings visit this link:
http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-gasdce/case_no-2:2007cv00148/case_id-42631/
-and-
http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-gasdce/case_no-2:2007cv00081/case_id-41150/

To view the article the Houston Chronicle did on the case, visit this link:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/sixel/5422587.html

To see a brochure made by the IRS on whether or not a person is an Employee, visit this link:
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1779.pdf

(And, to me it looks like there is a fine line, but we are still Independent Contractors.)

Any of the names or personal information in this article are based on information obtained from public records, and may not be accurate.

For more information about Liveops, or to apply, follow the link below!
Liveops

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

I work for liveops and do well. It's based on performance and no business is successful without time and knowledge. If you don't do well you make less money. why should someone who is bad on the phone make as much as a better agent. They knew what was up when they started, now they want to sue cause they aren't good at it. They need to realize it wasn't for them and move on.

Anonymous said...

I work for liveops and do well. It's based on performance and no business is successful without time and knowledge. If you don't do well you make less money. why should someone who is bad on the phone make as much as a better agent. They knew what was up when they started, now they want to sue cause they aren't good at it. They need to realize it wasn't for them and move on.

Anonymous said...

I also work for Liveops and do very well as well. On average, I make double my state's minimum wage (by the way, my state recently increased minimum wage to $7.25/hr). The contracts we sign state in several places that we are independent contractors and NOT employees. Liveops is based on performance and the better you do, the more you make. I just can't believe that two agents who obviously aren't performing well would want to ruin it for everyone else. To those agents: It's time to grow up, gain some maturity, and find something else that works for you.

Freda26547 said...

I am also an independant contractor for LiveOps. I cannot believe that someone is doing this. They must be very bad agents, to not even make minimum wage. I always make over twenty dollars an hour. The call routing at LiveOps is based on performance. The better you are the more calls you get and the more money you make. If these two ladies want to be paid like employees, then they need to get a regular job. I love the way things operate at liveops, and I woould hate to have to give up my $20-$27 an hour to get minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

I too work for LiveOps. I love doing what I'm doing and make more part-time $15-18 than I did full-time at most other jobs I've had $14. The best part is I can more easily ignore all the drama found in a brick and mortar setting. However, while LiveOps says you're a independent contractor, their actions do show otherwise according to irs law. Either way, I'm loving it right now and as long as they'll keep me as a contractor I'll stay. Couldn't really ask for a better employment situation.

Anonymous said...

Just because you signed a contract stating that you are an IC doesn't mean anything if the contract wasn't valid in the first place. While I recognize that you enjoy things the way they are, but if your contract isn't valid - you dont care?

Anonymous said...

Who's to say the contract isn't valid? I'm sure LO has a legal department who made sure that it was.

Anonymous said...

the courts will say. Done and Done

Anonymous said...

i'm new at LiveOps so I don't get as many calls as the more experienced, but I like it too because you will get what you put into it. No gas expense, no pressure, no weekly tax deductions, where else can you make extra money with no investment ? They will win this case.

Anonymous said...

I agree that if these ladies were unhappy they should have just left and not hung around until the thought they had cause for a lawsuit, but if you actually calculate the amount of money you make by the actual hours that you are logged in and not the number of hours you are paid for, the hourly rate does not amount to as much as you would like to think. For example, if you are logged in for 6 hours and you get calls for 3 out of those 6 hours and he total amount you make is 30.00, you have made 5.00 an hour, not 10.00.

There are virtual call centers, where you are an independent contractor, that offer a per talk time rate but have a minimum anount per hour that you make if you get no calls at all or if the per minute rate is not a least the per hour rate, similar to Liveops forecast bonus, but if your talk time exceeds the minimum hourly rate you are paid what you make so you are not locked into one rate. It is just a way of ensuring that you make something for spending your time logged in.

I have worked for Liveops and I now work for one of the call centers that have a minimum hourly rate and I prefer to make more money for less time spent logged in any day, but it is a matter of preference of how you prefer to make your money and as I said above, if someone doesn't like it they should just move on.

Ginene said...

This is making it bad for some but just because you signed a contract doesn't mean it stands up in court. Reading IRS website, looks like the women will win because the information listed appears as if they are employees. It will just suck for everyone else that is making well over minimum wage.

Anonymous said...

It's like this...if you start your own business, for instance, doing landscaping, you have to do the research, figure out your market, buy equipment, build a client base, etc., in order to run said business. Now, if after putting in all of that time, effort, and money, you do not make minimum wage, what do you do? Who do you sue? Answer: No one, or maybe yourself! It is YOUR business...

The same holds true if you contract with LiveOps as a remote call center agent. I know, because I have done both! My husband and I had our own landscaping business and did so well that we actually had to sell it because it got too big for us to handle on our own - which somehow defeated the purpose of having it.

I am currently an agent for LiveOps and yesterday, for instance, I made $22 / hour! A far cry from minimum wage. As has been previously posted, your earning potential is all performance based. If you are converting sales, honoring your commits, being compliant, and building good stats, then you will have no other choice than to be successful! I have no sympathy for people who want something for nothing...who want all the rewards but choose not to apply any true effort.
Enough said? I think so! ;)

Anonymous said...

This lawsuit is not just about minimum wage pay. It is also about receiving pay for the time you spend training. The lawsuit is not trying to ensure that everyone gets paid the same amount. Those people who work harder will still get more money. This lawsuit is not a threat to how anyone gets paid and will not lead to a cap on how much anyone can make. LiveOps wants everyone to believe that so no one will join the lawsuit when it gets certified as a class action. The best example that change will not hurt the better performers is when West Telemarketing was sued this summer for the exact same thing. As a result of that lawsuit, West started paying training pay and guaranteeing the home agents minimum wage. Why do you think West changed their policy so quickly - because they knew they were not following the law. Also, you can look to other telemarketing companies like Alpine Access who guarantee their people get at least minimum wage and it doesn't effect their top performing agents. For those people already averaging making more than the minimum wage then that won't change. The only thing that will change for you if the class action gets certified is that you will get some training pay. Another misconception is that just because you sign a document- that LiveOps wrote - that says you are an IC doesn't mean that you are a real IC under the law. LiveOps wants you to be ICs so they won't have to pay payroll taxes. FedEx classified their drivers as ICs for years and years only to have the IRS come after them this year and declare that they really were not ICs. The law is clear that if you are going to be a true IC then you need to control most of the vital aspects of your business . . .Home Agents don't control the vital aspects of the business, LiveOps does.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, recently liveops has changed a lot recently, I can sit for hours and not get calls, I get lots of hangups, and that changes my performance rating, which means I get less calls. This is a new things for liveops, and I make very little money with them now. I even have some five stars. They expect us to do so much, go to meeting, conferences, etc. with no pay, but believe me you can and do get fired by no longer getting calls. I can assure you that I am an excellent sales person and fantastic at customer service. You can't change your performance ratings if you can't get calls, so it is an endless cycle.

Anonymous said...

I also work for liveops and do well. I hope this lawsuit does not change how liveops operates. I believe these women need to grow up and find something they like doing. With the economy how it is they are probably thinking twice about what they have done. Liveops, keep in mind you have thousands of agents working for you whom are happy and would like things to stay as they are.

Anonymous said...

I to worked for liveops beware the are a scam and need to be put 50ft under god blees the suers

Anonymous said...

Liveops should be renamed LIEops.

Anonymous said...

WOW.... I was looking for info on this FINALLY. Im glad i found it here. Thanks for the info. I also work for LO, though theres alot of things that have changed since I started working for them 2.5yrs ago & i dont agree with (ie- take a call within 42days instead of 60), Its an amazing company! These women are upset at something, clearly. & about West, I know back 2 yrs ago they changed their policy from IC to employees, maybe this is what these women are trying to do. But im sure if that happens with LO, LO will have to put the brakes on for new hires. Who knows. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

I kept reading after I posted my comment & most of you are right about how you feel with LO. One person said- Home Agents don't control the vital aspects of the business, LiveOps does. So how are we Business owners/IC's again?? B/c a business owner makes their own decisions... I totally agree on the whole Fedex thing, only part of the drivers are IC & the rest regular paid employee, whos the idiot who figured that out? IDK... but Ive been thinking about leaving LO for a while, specially after they dropped one of my food lines. They dont seem to care- if someone was in the hospital sick for 2 months & then oops deactivated, they dont care, get back into line. I know of plenty of employers who are sooo much nicer than that, they care for their employees well being. All they care about is that you get that upsell, & that u keep ur calls short, i got slipped for a 29min call, oops my bad but what are u suppose to do when u have a blind woman trying to order. anyhow.. thats my vent!

Anonymous said...

I received notification from the IRS on June 30, 2008 that I was an employee, instead of a contractor, for West.
In fact, an opening paragraph in the letter I received from the IRS states:
The employment tax status of call agents for West Telemarketing LP was previously addressed by this office.
It was determined that call agents are employees for Federal tax purposes.
Today I'm checking into filing unemployment compensation in PA although I'm not clear whether the fact I did not apply for UC earlier (filing at this late date, after receiving IRS determination of employee status), therefore only having 8 credit weeks in the base year beginning 07/08, whereas I would have had the full 16 or 18 credit weeks had I filed a few months ago.
Of course, I couldn't file a few months ago because the IRS had not yet advised me that I was an employee of West, instead of a contractor.

Anonymous said...

I think the ladies have a legitimate claim. I worked for west before they started treating people as employees. Companies save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by hiring people as independent contractors instead of employees. It's not right. For more information on employee vs independent contract status you can visit the irs.gov website or call and talk to a representative. As a tax professional, I have seen many small business start out paying everyone as independent contractors because they don't know any better, don't want to have to do payroll, deal with unemployment etc. A lot of the time they are doing it wrong and are willing to face the consequences because the chances are, they will not get "caught." Large companies like LiveOps and West know better. That is why the companies have/are converting to employee status or are requiring potential at home workers to incorporate so there is no misunderstanding or possibility they can be accused of not doing the right thing. I hope the ladies win!

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W: Home said...

I am also an independant contractor for LiveOps. I cannot believe that someone is doing this. They must be very bad agents, to not even make minimum wage. I always make over twenty dollars an hour. The call routing at LiveOps is based on performance. The better you are the more calls you get and the more money you make. If these two ladies want to be paid like employees, then they need to get a regular job. I love the way things operate at liveops, and I woould hate to have to give up my $20-$27 an hour to get minimum wage.

Danielle said...

I agree with the other commenter that business will never ever be successful without the time and knowledge. That's why they should be smart enough to think of make those steps.

By the way, thank you so much for the post!

Danielle

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