Scott v. Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC

Complaint (Filing fee $ 400, receipt number 0422-7222027.), filed by Jennifer Scott.

Eastern District of Virginia, vaed-2:2020-cv-00267

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2 PageID# 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA NORFOLK DIVISION JENNIFER SCOTT, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-00267 Plaintiff, JURY TRIAL DEMANDED v. PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, COLLECTIVE ACTION PURSUANT L.L.C. TO 29 U.S.C. § 216(B) Defendant. ORIGINAL COLLECTIVE ACTION COMPLAINT Plaintiff Jennifer Scott ("Plaintiff" or "Scott"), brings this action individually and on behalf of all current and former hourly call-center employees (hereinafter "Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members" or "Plaintiff and the FLSA Collective Members") who worked for Portfolio Recovery Associates, L.L.C. ("PRA" or "Defendant"), at any time from May 28, 2017 through the final disposition of this matter, to recover compensation, liquidated damages, and attorneys' fees and costs pursuant to the provisions of Sections 206, 207 and 216(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, as amended 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. I. OVERVIEW 1. This is a collective action to recover overtime wages and liquidated damages brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201–19. 2. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are those similarly situated persons who have worked for PRA in call centers throughout the United States at any time from May 28, 2017 through Original Collective Action Complaint Page 1 2 PageID# 2 the final disposition of this matter, and have not been paid for all hours worked nor the correct amount of overtime in violation of federal law. 3. Specifically, PRA enforced a uniform company-wide policy wherein it improperly required its hourly call-center employees—Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members—to perform work "off-the-clock" and without pay. 4. PRA's illegal company-wide policy has caused Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to have hours worked that were not compensated and further created a miscalculation of their regular rate(s) of pay for purposes of calculating their overtime compensation each workweek. 5. Although Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members have routinely worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members have not been paid overtime of at least one and one-half their regular rates for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek. 6. PRA knowingly and deliberately failed to compensate Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members for all hours worked each workweek and the proper amount of overtime on a routine and regular basis during the relevant time periods. 7. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members did not (and currently do not) perform work that meets the definition of exempt work under the FLSA. 8. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members seeks to recover all unpaid overtime, liquidated damages, and other damages owed under the FLSA as a collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). 9. Plaintiff prays that all similarly situated workers (Putative Class Members) be notified of the pendency of this action to apprise them of their rights and provide them an opportunity to opt- in to this lawsuit. Original Collective Action Complaint Page 2 2 PageID# 3 II. THE PARTIES 10. Plaintiff Jennifer Scott ("Scott") was employed by PRA during the relevant time period. Plaintiff Scott did not receive compensation for all hours worked or the correct amount of overtime compensation for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per workweek.1 11. The FLSA Collective Members are those current and former hourly call-center employees who were employed by PRA, anywhere in the United States, at any time from May 28, 2017 through the final disposition of this matter, and have been subjected to the same illegal pay system under which Plaintiff Scott worked and was paid. 12. Defendant Portfolio Recovery Associates, L.L.C. ("PRA") is a Domestic Limited Liability Company, licensed to and doing business in the State of Virginia, and can be served through its registered agent: Corporation Service Company, 100 Shockoe Slip 2nd Floor, Richmond, VA 23219-4100. III. JURISDICTION & VENUE 13. This Court has federal question jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as this is an action arising under 29 U.S.C. §§ 201 et. seq. 14. This Court has personal jurisdiction over PRA because the cause of action arose within this District as a result of PRA's conduct within this District and Division. 15. Venue is proper in the Eastern District of Virginia because this is a judicial district where a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred. 16. Specifically, PRA's corporate headquarters are located in Norfolk, Virginia, which is located in this District and Division. 1 The written consent of Jennifer Scott is hereby attached as Exhibit "A." Original Collective Action Complaint Page 3 2 PageID# 4 17. Venue is therefore proper in this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391. IV. ADDITIONAL FACTS 18. Portfolio Recovery Associates, L.L.C. is a debt collection company and operates several call centers throughout the United States.2 19. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' job duties consisted of making and answering phone calls made by debtors, and would attempt to collect on these outstanding debts. 20. Plaintiff Scott was employed by PRA in customer service in Hampton, Virginia from approximately November 2017 until February 2020. 21. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are non-exempt call-center employees who were (and are) paid by the hour. 22. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members typically worked approximately forty (40) "on-the-clock" hours per week. 23. In addition to their forty (40) "on-the-clock" hours, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members worked up to five (5) hours "off-the-clock" per week and have not been compensated for that time. 24. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members have not been compensated for all the hours they worked for PRA as a result of PRA's corporate policy and practice of requiring their hourly call- center employees to clock-in only when ready to take their first call. 25. Specifically, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are required to start and log-in to their computer, open multiple different PRA computer programs, log in to each PRA program, and ensure that each PRA program is running correctly—all of which can take up to twenty-five minutes— 2 https://www.portfoliorecovery.com/prapay/help/faqs. Original Collective Action Complaint Page 4 2 PageID# 5 before they allowed to clock in on the time keeping software application and then take their first phone call. 26. If Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members are not ready and on the phone at shift start they can be subject to discipline. 27. If Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members clock in prior to their shift start time, they are also subject to discipline. 28. Therefore, the only way to be ready on time, and avoid discipline, is to prepare the computer "off-the-clock." 29. During this start up time, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were not compensated although they were expected to have completed this process in advance of their official start times. 30. PRA provides the Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members with one unpaid lunch break per shift. 31. However, PRA requires the Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to perform "off- the-clock" work during their unpaid lunch break. 32. Plaintiff and the Putative Class were required to stay on the clock and on call until the minute their lunch break began, clock out, then log out of the phone system or otherwise go into an aux mode, and then log off of their computer prior to leaving their desk for lunch. 33. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were required to log back into their computer, log back into the phone system, then clock in, and be back on the phone right at the moment their lunch break ends. 34. The log off process used prior to going to lunch can take 1-3 minutes. 35. The log in process used after returning from lunch can take 1-3 minutes. Original Collective Action Complaint Page 5 2 PageID# 6 36. This lengthy log off and log in procedure had to be performed during Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' lunch break per PRA policy. 37. Further, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members' computers crashed multiple times each week and required Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to reset them, which took ten (10) minutes or more each time. 38. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were also not compensated for the time they worked for PRA rebooting PRA's computers after they crashed. 39. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were always scheduled to work exactly forty (40) hours each week. 40. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were (and still are) not permitted to hang up on customers and must finish every call regardless of how long it takes. 41. Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members frequently found (and continue to find) themselves handling calls past the end of their shift end time on the last day of the week. 42. This call would cause Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to go over their forty (40) hour work shift in one week. However, PRA would shave that time off and not pay Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members any overtime. 43. In addition, PRA also enforced a uniform company-wide policy wherein they improperly required their non-exempt hourly employees—Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members— to clock out for rest breaks lasting twenty minutes or less. 29 C.F.R. § 785.18; see also Sec'y U.S. Dep't of Labor v. Am. Future Sys., Inc., 873 F.3d 420, 425 (3d Cir. 2017). 44. PRA permitted Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to take two ten-minute breaks each day but required them to clock out for any and all breaks taken outside the two ten-minute breaks. Original Collective Action Complaint Page 6 2 PageID# 7 45. As a result of PRA's corporate policy and practice of requiring Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to perform their computer start up tasks before the beginning of their shifts, perform log-in log out processes during their unpaid lunch break, and requiring Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members to clock out for short breaks, Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members were not compensated for all hours worked, including all worked in excess of forty (40) in a workweek at the rates required by the FLSA. 46. PRA has employed other individuals who perform(ed) the same or similar job duties under the same pay provisions as Plaintiff. 47. PRA is aware of their obligation to pay overtime for all hours worked and the proper amount of overtime for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) each week, but have failed to do so. 48. Because PRA did not pay Plaintiff and the Putative Class Members for all hours worked and time and a half for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) in a workweek, PRA's pay policies and practices violate the FLSA. V. CAUSE OF ACTION A. FLSA COVERAGE 49. Plaintiff Scott incorporates by reference all paragraphs and allegations set forth in the statement of facts of this complaint as though fully and completely set forth herein. 50. The FLSA Collective is defined as: ALL HOURLY CALL-CENTER EMPLOYEES WHO WERE EMPLOYED BY PORTFOLIO RECOVERY ASSOCIATES, L.L.C., ANYWHERE IN THE UNITED STATES, AT ANY TIME FROM MAY 28, 2017 THROUGH THE FINAL DISPOSITION OF THIS MATTER. ("FLSA Collective" or "FLSA Collective Members") 51. At all times hereinafter mentioned, PRA has been an employer within the meaning of Section 3(d) of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). Original Collective Action Complaint Page 7 2 PageID# 8 52. At all times hereinafter mentioned, PRA has been an enterprise within the meaning of Section 3(r) of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 203(r). 53. At all times hereinafter mentioned, PRA has been an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce within the meaning of Section 3(s)(1) of the FLSA, 2