UPDATE: I’ve included some bottom-line information at the bottom of this article for you, along with the relevant contact information to find out more information if you need it. I’ve spoken with a number of sources on the issue of Sutherland’s latest legal troubles, and there are quite a few…

UPDATE: I’ve included some bottom-line information at the bottom of this article for you, along with the relevant contact information to find out more information if you need it.

I’ve spoken with a number of sources on the issue of Sutherland’s latest legal troubles, and there are quite a few moving parts to it. This blog has been looking into the issues for a little less than a week, but now for both the interests of informing the general public and more importantly, to inform other employees, current and former, of the state of affairs let me lay this out as simply as possible.

Many Sutherland employees will be familiar with the practice of logging onto phones and working sales assets before logging on to their time keeping system. Others will be familiar with working through lunches or other practices encouraged by Sutherland, especially on the sales team. Those of you who worked tech support positions probably spent a fair amount of time working after the ends of your shift to complete calls. In all of these cases, where Sutherland failed to make sure the employee was properly compensated, they violated the law.

The U.S. Department of Labor caught on to this some time ago, and began an investigation. Eventually, while comparing Sutherland’s payroll to it’s Kronos time system and the hours logged, they began to notice wide discrepancies for which they sued. This lawsuit did not go any farther than matching Kronos against Sutherland’s payroll, and does not include any estimation of time worked for which there is no record, nor does in include other offenses that many have claimed Sutherland to be guilty of. It also includes only time from July 16th 2002 through July 17th 2004 and only includes the Rochester offices.

Meanwhile, a group of employees was also fighting for compensation for similar abuses at Sutherland. Their suit, which has bloomed into a class-action suit, includes 1999 through 2007. It also charges that there were many other violations like overtime-differentiated commissions and other violations, and includes all Sutherland employees in the U.S., whereas the DOL case involves only Rochester.

OK, so that’s the background up to the point when I became aware of the situation. Then, like many of the Rochester Sutherland employees, on June 8th, I received a letter from Sutherland stating that they had reached an agreement on the “audit” performed by the DOL. The “audit” in question was actually the first of the two lawsuits pending against them. They are attempting settling this dispute directly with employees, and sending letters notifying them of the sum that Sutherland has agreed to pay.

Had Rebecca Klimek, the Human Resources Director from whom this letter originated, not messed up the language of the letter, we all would have received a letter stating that we would be getting x number of dollars plus additional penalties to the company of the exact same amount. What we got were letters stating that we were receiving x number of dollars *less* a penalty of the exact same amount, leading us to suspect that we were getting the rug pulled over our eyes and getting squat back.

But for this unfortunate gaff, most every one of us would have signed it and moved on without a second look. Instead, it’s caused a flurry of suspicion and fact-checking around the case that they probably didn’t want. So, everything’s on the up and up, and this is just a simple typo problem?

Not quite. Don’t think that there isn’t some legal trickery going on, here, because there is. Sutherland’s settlement of the more modest DOL lawsuit and their delivery of the letters was indeed quite conveniently before the plaintiff lawyers in the second, larger lawsuit got a chance to send out their own letters. They included the following language:

You should understand that your acceptance of the back wages, as stated above, means that you give up any rights you may have, within the period, July 16, 2001 through July 17, 2004, to bring legal action for such amount. As stated above, you are required to execute a Release in which you acknowledge that you have given up your rights to bring such action in return for the payment.

Is that the truth? Well, yes, as far as that goes. You obviously can’t take a settlement and then sue again. But isn’t this rather obvious? Yes it is, and this letter seems designed to suggest that you give up any right to sue for any other damages, even if it does so with convenient, plausibly deniable weasel words. That much is certainly not correct.

The DOL investigation never included as many years nor nearly as many employees as does the class-action. Even if you settled, you’d still be entitled to continue with the other lawsuit if you are eligible, as long as you didn’t double-dip the money from the first settlement on the second. In other words, if lawsuit A settled for $100 and lawsuit B settled for $101, you’d be OK to take the $100 from the first and the $1 from the second. And there may be a lot more than 1 dollar in that second suit for you.

So, while no laws have been violated in this instance, Sutherland seems to be guilty of a bit of deception for the sake of minimizing the damages. Just consider the flow of the letter. First their letter begins by dangling a couple hundred dollars in the faces those whom they admitted to having previously defrauded. Then they ask that you sign the waiver and quietly mail it off to the H.R. department of Sutherland, the very same department responsible for the fraud. Finally, they hit you with the legalese that suggests (deniably) that you can’t have anything to do with the class action lawsuit.

Nice and quiet, they’re sewing up the leak and trying to keep maybe hundreds of people (most of whom probably won’t read past the first paragraph) from collecting potentially hundreds of dollars of their own lost wages that they have every right to. There’s nothing criminal in the letter, and they can argue that they were informing people, but at the same time, an impression is given which is not entirely square with reality.

Here, then, for the benefit of those who’ve not gotten the letter, is it’s body entirely:

Dear Thomas J Belknap:

The United States Department of Labor conducted an audit of time and payroll records of Sutherland Global Services Inc., formerly known as Sutherland Group Ltd. (“Sutherland”), covering the period from July 16, 20m through July 17, 2004. As a result of that audit, it was determined by the Department that you are due back wages in the gross amount of $x.xx less applicable withholdings and liquidated damages in the amount of $x.xx.

In order to receive payment of the back wages and liquidated damages due to you as determined by the Department of Labor, you must execute and return the enclosed Release to Rebecca Klimek, Sutherland Global Services Inc., 1180 Jefferson Road, Rochester, New York 14623. The Release must be returned to Sutherland (Attention: Rebecca Klimek) no later than July 19, 2007. Upon receipt of the fully executed Release, Sutherland will issue and mail payment to the address listed in the Release.

You should understand that your acceptance of the back wages, as stated above, means that you give up any rights you may have, within the period, July 16, 2001 through July 17, 2004, to bring legal action for such amount. As stated above, you are required to execute a Release in which you acknowledge that you have given up your rights to bring such action in return for the payment.

Very truly yours,

Rebecca Klimek
Director of Human Resources

The Bottom Line

  1. There are two lawsuits, not just one: a suit by the Department of Labor and a class-action lawsuit on behalf of employees of Sutherland.
  2. The Department of Labor and Sutherland settled on a rather narrow definition of Sutherland’s offenses over a relatively narrow time frame.
  3. The class-action lawsuit includes many offenses not covered in the DOL case, and does so over a longer period of time.  That being between the years 1999 and 2007.
  4. Even if you agreed to settle the DOL lawsuit, there is no reason that you cannot also join in the class action lawsuit if you worked for Sutherland before July 16th, 2002 or after July 17th 2004.

It may also be possible that you could still join in the suit if you can claim that other forms of abuses not included in the original suit (such as non-differentiated commission) also apply to you. To be sure about this, you might want to get in touch with the lawyer in the class action suit.

Contact the Plaintiff:

Website: http://www.sutherlandovertimesuit.com/
Representing Attorney: Stanley Matusz, at 585-271-5460
Email Contact: info@sutherlandovertimesuit.com

Additional Resources:

U.S. Department of Labor, Buffalo office:
Niagara Center
130 South Elmwood Avenue
Room 536
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: (716) 842-2979
Fax: (716) 842-2980

25 Responses to Sutherland Lawsuit(s) Updates and Important Information

  • They are doing this same thing in Canada as well. Windsor, SSM and Vernon should get together and do something similar up here. Leave your opinion here and at crazysutherland.com

  • Meshif
    Looking for people to conduct our own studies, here in Canada. If you are interested in joining as a group, please respond back to this ad or

    http://www.topix.net/law/employment-labor/2007/06/sutherland-global-services-sued-by-thousands-of-employees/p2#lastPost

  • August 1, 2007 at 9:00 pm russ cooper responds:

    i just got hired at sutherland to start monday, after reading all of this and talking to a few friends here in windsor canada, who share the same opinion about sutherland… i am definately having second thoughts… i don’t think i will go on monday… i think i’ll keep my current job… whoever posted this site… kudos… if only you saved my life from there destruction, then thank you… thank you from my kids belly’s too… the thing is, we are just numbers to them, and this messed up system they have which seems to be flying right under the law, seems to be working for them, but don’t they realize they are ruining people’s lives. people in low income families don’t have a second chance somtime, if i would have quit my job now to work there wich i was going to do before i read this message… and that stuff would hav happened to me, i don’t think my family would have made it… bastards….

  • Well, I would advise caution before working there, that is for certain. On the other hand, Sutherland’s largest problem is the “Wild West” kind of attitude they have there, primarily because most of the motivators there are salesmen. They have this attitude where anything goes and in fact, each account can be radically different from the next. It all comes down to who your boss is.

    So, you might end up working for a great boss who treats you very nicely. I had the good fortune of working for one of those bosses. But it’s a risk you take when you work there.

    On the other hand, the short-changing of overtime is largely company policy, if not directly on paper. So be on the lookout for that, if you can’t stay away.

  • facilities……carefull junior ,given your lack of command of the english language(tread lightly) been there done that

  • DISRESPECT and DISHONESTY !!!!! That is what SG is all about. Using people to benefit themselves.

    I was one of the first employees hired after being let go from my last job of 11 years due to cutbacks. I looked at this opportunity with a lot of enthusiasm and eager to learn. I didn’t take me too long to find out what this company was all about. After working at SG for 5 months I could no longer take the high pressure, the disrespect and the lies I was working under and I quit and felt a great relief. Right from the beginning there was nothing but lies. The biggest lie of all was that I was told when I was hired that I would only be explaining the bill to customers. No mention was made about selling internet, dish or cingular. After a month on the floor the pressure started with the selling.
    No commission was ever mentioned. After 4 months on the floor the commission was posted that who ever sold the most internet got a 25.00 gift card. What a sham!!! Nothing to anyone that did sell any internet. There has been no commission ever paid to employees who sell dish or cingular but SG makes a profit for the sales.
    Who is reaping all the benefits of this call centre??? SUTHERLAND
    Catering to a US customer base and paying $9.00 Canadian.
    Who makes the big profit?????? SUTHERLAND
    No commission for everyone who sells. Who makes the big profit?????? SUTHERLAND
    I use to punch in 5 min early and 5 min late and my phone time never showed I had perfect attendance so I received no bonus. Rigged phones???????

    No one should have the feeling that they are trapped and used by a company like SG.

    Is our government blind to how their citizens are treated or maybe they just don’t care…..
    Did they research this company before giving them all that money???????

    There are so many negative things that I could say about this company. They aren’t ironing things out…. they have always treated their employees this way. Read about the American lawsuits for loss of wages and overtime and commissions on the internet.
    If you have to take a job there to make ends meet please keep in mind….to keep looking elsewhere forepeace and freedom and self respect.

  • September 22, 2007 at 2:54 pm TiredOfBeingScrewed responds:

    I am also an employee of Sutherland in Syracuse Ny and I have to say the very same thing. Sutherland Global Services are crooks! They pay starting $8.25- 9.50 an hr here. Depending on which program ur on. My program before u can get $50 in commisssion you have to make them $2756.00 in revenue. Mind u revenue is money they receive from our client regardless if we hit our goals or not. We also have a attendance clause where u loose out on $25 an hr for every hr u miss of work, plus a $500 perfect attendance bonus. The bonus is in revenue. We also cannot use our PTO time. Only pre-approved time off,and it has to be 2 wks in advance. How can I pre-approve sick time for myself or my kids? Do they care? NO! We should all get together every office everywhere and do something about this.

  • My kronos was tampered with on numerous occassions with one particular manager that was dismissed because his wrong doings finally caught up to him, yet I have not been compensated for my commission nor my hourly rates that was removed just because management felt this was justified by human resources and let me clearly state that these actions that took place by upper management was not only done in rochester alot of this was done in Syracuse New York as well…..Please do whatever it is that needs to be done so that this matter goes without notice.

  • I’ve got my ear to the grond on this one, Sonja, so bookmark this site and check back. When there is more to speak of, it will be found here!

  • Well, I have just found out that there is another lawsuit being filed as we speak against them for misclasssing the classification of their salaried employees.

    I guess they have classed all salary employees as exempt, and a good portion of them should be non-exempt. This means that they owe anyone who was misclassed 1 1/2 times their rate for any OT worked in the last 6 years.

    Add to this that they will be made to pay out 2-3 times this amount to all employees and it’s going to add up to a few million more dollars.

    I have heard that they have taken care of some current employees and are keeping it quiet unless you go to them and request them to investigate.

    It’s really not looking too good for Sutherland at the moment.

    As far as going public, I have very good inside information that it won’t be anytime in the near future, so don’t hold your breath.

  • You, my friend, are beyond full of shit.

  • i love working for sutherland. i make mad bread. well for me. im 24 and make 70 g’s a year.

  • I’m so glad I stopped here before I went and applied! Are they still as bad as they use to be?!?

  • I worked for SG from 10/2002 – 11/2002 , but never got that letter.  The ad I responded to was for Customer Service , but upon starting the training , it was clear it was for sales of dsl services and not customer service.  While there , we were periodically given the speech about making more $$ by working all or part of your lunch. 

    A couple of other issues that arose while I was there were:

    – We started out with commissions per sale (rough estimate $8.25 – $8.50 per) , but after 2 weeks , a memo was sent out about a new incentive plan which was worded to sound like it was in addition to the current one. Not so! It replaced it. We now would get $10 for making 80 sales in a month (only reasonably possible during the day , not the night shifts).

    – The number of sales you made was never anywhere near what they paid commissions on. First 2 weeks I had 10 sales , but was credited with only 3. They claimed they could not locate the rest , yet I could bring them up in seconds and had the printouts!

    One other oddity was that they seemed to manipulate the calls one received. In the 1st three weeks or so , there were several nights when I went the night with zero calls , yet others near me were getting them quite steady. 
    They also tried getting out of commissions by claiming that if you missed a single day , you automatically were not due commissions that month. They did relent that month (November)  , but paid me $20 (26 sales) while they paid a friend $140 (34 sales). Not exactly fair.
     

  • I used to work there. It was a quick moment though. The supervisors put everyone through a lengthy abuse and threatening process, more because that they are told to do so. People constantly try and get people fired because they want to “climb the ladder” by any means necessary. Someone actually bragged to me about this, and the following week he was a supervisor.  Then I heard he tried to do it again with his friends involved, but the guy he was doing it to left because of school.

    Terms like “Auto-In” or “Aux-in” are shouted left and right from everyone from the Indian from India who cannot speak proper english and works there without a job title (no exagerration there), and anyone who plays the “game” gets promoted.

    Your job title constantly gets extra things added on to it and your original job title is at the bottom of a long list.

    And below is a description I am about to give that will sum up the job in a whole.

    If your a secretary, your going to strictly do secretarial duties, and your manager or whomever, may ask you to get them a cup of coffee once in a while. 1% of your job getting coffee and 99% secretary guff.

    At sutherland, it is completely the opposite, and the supervisors cant decide on what is a priority each day. Bad management surrounds each facility, and bad managers get promoted by their friends that are horrid in the first place.

    I am pretty sure this is how the soviet union ran itself, by promoting people who can wear a tie, look intimidating, do a mediocre job that entails EASY work, but can’t really work FOR the people.

    The only problem is that sutherland will never die unless people stop giving them money for cheap labour.

  • How come the WEB site still says October, We getting stiffed there too?

  • The policy for pay was as follows:
    -2 weeks pay periods
    -Kronos (the time keeper punch clock) only managed work time in 2 week amounts.
    -If you happened to work over 40 hours in 1 week your hours works would be “adjusted” so some of the hours rolled over into the 2nd week of the 2-week pay period.
    -If you worked for under 40 hours in the 2nd week of the pay period your 1st week over time hours were added togeather with your 1st to give a total number of hours worked in a pay period.
    -If the “Total Hours” in a pay period exceeded 80, you would then be elegable for overtime in the Kronos system.
    -In some cases (not most) hours had been know to be rolled over again into other pay periods and the cycle would continue. This was played off as an “incentive” for if you are late one day or need to call in sick. You might have enough hours rolled over to still qualify as having worked your full 40 hour week.
    -Some desks/contracts gave bonuses for having no missed time at work. This translated into having worked at least 40 hours per week in total for a 1 month period according to Kronos.
    -This is just one example of how the internal workings lead to voilations. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    • Thanks for the information, LongTime. This is very informative. I don’t recall any such plan in the Henn office I worked out of, but I’m not sure. The biggest thing I remember was asking people to login to phones without logging into Kronos. That was a very big problem.

  • Sutherland practices daily on how to rob their employees. Month to month the commision plan changes only for the benefit of the company and never the employees.
    The practices I’ve seen at SuthHell-land are of no benefit for the customer either.
    Whenever there was an opportunity for a customer service rep to make extra money there was ALWAYS a discrepancies in hours.
    In my case, I worked on a program where we were actually able to bring a decent dollar home, the program was discontinued.
    I wish to best of luck for those suing. My prayers to those still employed there.

  • Any news on the status of the lawsuit? Haven't heard anything since March 2009.

    • I gotta assume this is a dead suit, I have E-mailed through the WEB site several times and it does not warrent a reply, Anybody contacted the new York State Bar?

      • The suit is not dead, continue to try to reach Stan, he is rather busy. All of us Plantiffs listed wait, he does have it under control.

  • May 24, 2010 at 2:42 am Jeff responds:

    Has anyone received any email updates? I signed up for them when I joined the lawsuit over 2 years ago – nothing received to date.

  • SO THIS IS STILL GOING ON???

  • What a God-awful place to work. Was there between 2005-2006. NEVER have I seen so much employee abuse by management. Horrible. I saw my own lead escorted out for being drunk. I saw a co-worker escorted out for being drunk. I saw a lead and an agent physically fighting on the floor. Left there and have never looked back.