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Aerotek settles suit with former workers

April 29, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A $1.2 million settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit filed against a staffing agency on behalf of more than 1,000 workers who worked at the company's former call center in Martinsburg, attorneys announced Wednesday.

Aerotek Inc. closed its call center operations at 300 and 400 Foxcroft Ave. in December 2006. The Hanover, Md.-based company then was sued to settle claims that the workers were not paid in a timely fashion for accrued personal time and were not paid all of the wages that were due in accordance with the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act and Fair Labor Standards Act, according to Berkeley County Circuit Court records.

More than 1,300 Aerotek workers were employed at the call center operated by Verizon Internet Services Inc. between March 1, 2002, and March 1, 2007, the time frame covered by the suit, Hammer said.

"In these difficult economic times, I'm pleased that West Virginians will receive substantial benefits from this settlement," said attorney David M. Hammer, who filed the civil action in March 2007.

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Attorney A. Neal Barkus, one of the attorneys involved in Aerotek's defense, confirmed Wednesday that a settlement, subject to court approval, had been reached.

The formula for distributing the money requires approval by presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gray Silver III.

Hammer said the plaintiffs are proposing employees who worked more hours per week for more years receive more than short-term employees who only worked part time.

In 2007, attorneys for Aerotek denied any wrongdoing in their answer to Hammer's complaint on behalf of three employees individually and as class representatives, contending the employees did not suffer a termination because other assignments with Aerotek were available to them.

In the press release on Wednesday, Aerotek renewed its denial of any wrongdoing, "but would like to bring an end to this long and vigorously contested controversy."

"The defendants maintain that Aerotek workers employed at the Martinsburg call center were properly compensated for all hours worked during their employment and the defendants complied with all applicable laws, state and federal," the release said. "Given that the call center closed in December 2006, however, this settlement allows the defendants to fully resolve all remaining business issues related to that facility."

The call center's closure in 2006 affected 228 Aerotek employees, a company spokeswoman said at the time.

The closure was part of an effort by Verizon to improve service by reducing the number of places customers have to call and to bring the work "in house" whenever possible, a Verizon spokesman had said.

The call center was operated at the Foxcroft Avenue site for 10 years to handle customer support, including billing inquires, investigations and other responsibilities, according to Verizon.

Aerotek is a member of Allegis Group, which claims to be the largest staffing company in the U.S., according to Aerotek's Web site.

Making a claim



Former workers at the Aerotek call center who wish to make claims may contact claims administrator Jonathan Paul of RUST Consulting Inc. at 225 Marquette Ave., Suite 880, in Minneapolis. Paul can be reached at 612-359-2088 or by e-mail at jpaul@rustconsulting.com.

Workers need to provide a current address and telephone number to ensure they receive their share of the settlement, attorney David M. Hammer said in a press release.

A legal notice is expected to be published later this year, Hammer said.

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