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Dell is facing a class action case from 5,000 call centre staff in the US who claim the computer giant has underpaid them since 2004.

An Oregon judge - the delightfully-named Thomas Coffin - has certified the case for class action status, which means that most of Dell's US call centre staff from 8 February 2004 to the present day can join in. It covers consumer call centres in Oregon, Central Texas, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Idaho.

The case was originally brought last year by two staff from the Oregon centre, David Norman and Walter Romas, both of Roseburg, Oregon. Since then more than 80 people have joined the case, but potentially some 5,000 former and current staff could be due compensation.

This is the nub of their complaint against Dell:

Dell consistently violates federal and state wage and hour laws by failing to record accurately all time worked and failing to pay earned wages and overtime. Examples of the unlawful practices claimed include: (1) requiring employees to work "off the clock" by not paying for work performed pre-shift, post-shift, and over unpaid meal breaks; (2) utilizing an inherently inaccurate time-keeping system called "Kronos;" and (3) improperly calculating overtime using a "half-time" overtime rate.

And here is a strident quote from Plaintiff's lawyer Derek Johnson: "Paying employees for all the time they work is not a novel or controversial concept. It is time for Dell to comply with the law."

Dell faces a similar lawsuit from workers at its business support call centre.

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