Phone-Sex Operator Brings Minimum-Wage Class Action

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Florida phone-sex operator filed a class-action lawsuit against Tele Pay USA, claiming it pays its employees well below the national minimum wage while making hundreds of dollars per hour from their work.

Anne Cannon of Orlando, Fla., filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Glendale-based Tele Pay USA in Los Angeles federal court, alleging failure to compensate off-the-clock work, unpaid overtime and failure to pay minimum wage.

Cannon, who says she has worked for the company since 2008, sued on behalf of its primarily female workforce.

The complaint, brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act, claims that Tele Pay pays its workers at a rate that is as low as $4.20 per hour.

Though the company offers incentives to earn more, Cannon says Tele Pay includes in her average call length prank calls, dropped calls and technical errors to pay employees wages that are below the national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Cannon claims Tele Pay makes it almost impossible for employees to track their time and account accurately for how long they have worked.

Workers are allegedly cajoled by a supervisor named “Don” to keep customers on the line for as long as possible, and the company demands that its workers answer calls on the first ring and conducts daily tests to make sure the employees are complying, Cannon claims.

She alleges the company also spams its workers in emails with subject lines like: “Calls Coming in like Crazy! Log-In Now!”

“Women are a core part of both the national and global economy. Unfortunately, the abuses and financial exploitation they experience often remain invisible,” the 13-page complaint states. “This is especially true for workers in female-dominated sectors of the economy such as sex talk workers. They are hidden from the public eye.”

The lawsuit says that Tele Pay calls itself a booking agent for actors looking to provide “entertainment services” to the company.

“Tele Pay’s purported service is to ‘negotiate and book engagements’ for the actors, the engagement being a telephone call between the customer seeking telephone sex-talk services and the actors, the call being initiated by the customer in response to defendants’ advertisements,” the lawsuit states.

In reality, Tele Pay does no negotiations and does not book work, Cannon says. The so-called engagement is just a sexually explicit call between the customer and phone sex operators, according to the complaint.

Cannon says she works from home in Florida where the minimum wage is $8.10 per hour, using a landline telephone.

The company requires her to stay home and within reach of her computer so that she can field dozens of calls each week, she says.

Tele Pay pays Cannon 10 cents per minute when her calls average about six minutes long, according to the lawsuit.

But calls are often less than six minutes in duration, dropping her hourly income to 7 cents per minute – which means she receives $6 per hour at the high end but only $4.20 an hour on the low end, the complaint states.

Tele Pay customers are charged $5 per minute, meaning the company can make up to $300 per hour based on one employee’s work, Cannon claims.

“Plaintiff’s average hourly rate is below $6.00. The minimum wage for the state of Florida, the state in which she works, is $8.10 per hour. Anywhere in the nation, the average amount received by Ms. Cannon is far below the allowed national or state minimum wage,” the lawsuit states.

Cannon is represented by Brian Mahany of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Tele Pay USA could not be reached for comment.

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