13 Investigates


Las Vegas call center faces chaos after bonus pay 'misunderstanding'

Posted at 4:34 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2020-08-21 17:50:56-04

A Las Vegas call center that employs hundreds of people in the valley has backed down from a plan that would cut pay by as much as $2 per hour.

If you have ever called customer service for some of the world's largest and best-known companies, there is a good chance the call was answered by a Sitel employee.

The multi-national company is an outsource customer service provider with 77,000 employees including approximately 1,500 in Las Vegas.

"We work, we have families, we've been doing this job for almost four years," said Sherelle Smith.

Smith works 10 hour days in the call center to troubleshoot satellite internet issues for customers.

Smith says the call center went into an uproar when management floated the idea of restructuring pay into a performance-based "bonus" program.

She says the net result would reduce overall base pay by $2 per hour and a series of goals would need to be met to recoup the lost wages. 

"I literally live paycheck to paycheck right now," explained Smith. "In my family, I'm the only one working," added Smith.

Several employees tell Contact 13 they are facing the same hardships. According to internal emails obtained by Contact 13, local Sitel management wanted to implement the new pay structure as soon as March 25.

"I have an eight-year-old and a one-year-old," said Cecelia Joe, another employee. "My husband does not work, so everything is on me, lights, rent, gas, water, car insurance," added Joe.

The move did not sit well with employees considering the company has annual revenue of $1.7 billion.

Contact 13 began digging into Sitel and found a series of lawsuits alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In a 2016 class action lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court, Sitel's alleged violations include failure to compensate for all hours worked, failure to pay minimum wages, failure to pay overtime and failure to timely pay all wages due.

Additional investigations by the U.S. Department of Labor found Sitel shorted employees $144,000 in wages and the company paid civil penalties of $74,900 for repeat violations of the FLSA in 2013.

Contact 13 reached out to Sitel spokesperson by phone and email about the pay structure controversy.

The spokesperson says the new pay plan was a misunderstanding by local management and there will be no pay changes at this time.

The email added the company would like to "apologize for any undue stress this caused employees and their families."

Here is the entire statement:

"There will be no pay changes at this time. The Sitel Group reviewed the information given to employees and discovered that there was a misunderstanding by the location management team. We apologize for any undue stress this caused employees and their families; we value their work and appreciate their contributions to Sitel."

-- Sitel Spokesperson

Contact 13 reached out to 5 additional companies with call center operations in the Las Vegas valley but none would comment about their employee compensation practices.

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