Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Phone-Sex Operator Claims Minimum Wage Violation in Class Action

For the first minute, and each minute after that, a phone-sex operator has filed a lawsuit claiming that her employer is violating minimum wage laws. While expectant customers can pay $5 per minute, the operators, shockingly, only make between $0.10 to $0.07 per minute. That means, at best, operators are making $6.00 per hour and potentially only $4.20 per hour. Other services are equally unimpressive.

The lawsuit alleges that the company, Tele Pay, which operates the nation's leading phone-sex network, systematically pays workers below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The lawsuit explains that Tele Pay does not claim to be employing individuals but rather claims to be acting as a talent booking service looking to connect entertainers with individuals.

Do Independent Contractors Get Minimum Wage?

Although traditionally, minimum wage laws do not protect independent contractors, this is only true for properly designated independent contractors. It is rather common for employers that attempt to skirt employment laws by asserting their employees are independent contractors to get sued and have state labor departments declare their contractors as employees.

Basically, all employers are required to pay minimum wage to all employees. However, when it comes to management level, or commission-based, employment, there are often exceptions when it comes to hourly rates and overtime pay. Independent contractors that run their own businesses often succeed due to being able to competitively price their services on a per project, rather than an hourly, basis.

One Lawsuit to Help Them All

The lawsuit against Tele Pay is filed as a class action case. While Anne Cannon is currently the only named plaintiff, the lawsuit seeks to represent all other similarly situated individuals. This means that all other operators who take calls as "entertainers" for Tele Pay, will be covered under this lawsuit (if the court approves it as a class action).

Class action cases are generally subject to strict rules governing when they will or will not be allowed. Additionally, individuals who do not wish to be represented by the class action will usually be able to "opt-out." By opting out, an individual may be able to file their own case, which may or may not be more lucrative, financially, than just going along with the class action.

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