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Old 05-02-2013, 07:35 PM  
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Pregnant T-Mobile Employee had to Clock Out to Use Toilet


Kristi Rifkin had been working at T-Mobile Call Center in Nashville for four years when she got pregnant with her third child. She says she loved her job.

"I had a great run," Rifkin, 40, told ABC News. "I was making bonus. T-Mobile was good to me. I never had a problem getting a schedule I wanted. I enjoyed it. I had even left another company to work at T-Mobile because they had great benefits."

But her good will toward the company changed once she got pregnant.
According to Rifkin, the pregnancy-her second (she has one stepson)-was a difficult one, and she was going to the doctor twice a week, seeing both a regular obstetrician and a high-risk obstetrician. She was also required to drink "tons and tons" of water - which, in turn, resulted in frequent trips to the bathroom. This did not sit well with T-Mobile, she said.

"They give you two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch," said Rifkin. "If you can't take care of your biological needs in that time period, you don't go."
Before her pregnancy, this wasn't an issue. But as she explained in a blog post on MomsRising.org, frequent jaunts to the bathroom would cut into what was known in the call center world as "adherence" - a metric that measures the degree to which employees meet their quota for being on the phone.

"You have different numbers you have to meet each month, and if you don't meet them they can fire you," she said. "The thinking is that if you're off the phone and you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, then there are customers waiting to talk to you."

She tried to hold off on eating and drinking; she needed the health insurance the job provided. But the baby was suffering, Rifkin said, and she had to start drinking water again.

Finally, she said, her supervisor pulled her aside and told her to get a note from her doctor explaining that she needed to go the bathroom often. "At that point, I thought my head was going to launch off my shoulders," said Rifkin. "'Are you serious? I need to get a note from my doctor to go to the toilet?' This is a basic biological need.'"

But Rifkin did as she was told; she got the doctor's note and cleared it with Human Resources. She was told that she could use the rest room any time she needed to, she said, but that she would have to clock out. When she returned from that bathroom, she would have to clock back in. "This meant I was out of work for five minutes," she said. She had to write the hours down and turn it into her supervisor, just to make sure she wasn't taking advantage of the situation.

"I ended up using my vacation time to use the bathroom," she said.
But she still wasn't eating and drinking as she was supposed to. Her blood pressure skyrocketed. She was stressed and anxious.

She finally went on the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees, seven weeks before her son, Ian, was born, on May 14, 2010. A month and a half after she returned to work she was fired, she said.

The reason? Rifkin says she was summarily fired after she failed to remove an extra-charge feature from a customer's account, the commission for which was 12 cents. She says the rare error occurred when she either forgot to remove the charge or removed another charge instead.

She got no severance, she said, and now pays for medical expenses out of pocket.
Rifkin said she has no plans to sue the company; it's too expensive, and Tennessee is an at-will employment state. "They can fire you for any reason," she said
The US. Department of Labor reports that only eight states require paid rest periods and Tennessee is not among them.

"There is no specific legal requirement that requires employers to let their employees use the restroom," Paula Brantner, the executive director of Workplace Fairness, which provides legal information about workers rights. However, "If a pregnant woman is the only employee being forced to clock out, and they don't require males or non-pregnant females to do so, it would seem to me that would be pregnancy discrimination."

In an email statement to ABC News, T-Mobile spokesperson Glenn A. Zaccara said that he could not comment on a specific individual. But "T-Mobile employees enjoy generous benefits including paid-time-off and short and long-term disability coverage," he said. "The company has leave of absence policies in line with regulatory requirements."
Rifkin was not impressed.

"I'm done with T-Mobile," she said. "I don't want anything to do with them anymore."
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Old 05-03-2013, 04:41 PM   #91

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Originally Posted by ChiliConCarnage View Post
You run something efficiently so that you have a higher profit margin. Otherwise they could easily up staff a bit and cover these situations. They just don't care about these people because they don't have great options.
Here's the context I'm using: running or staffing efficiently for a call center is about ability to answer the calls you're supposed to answer in the time frame you're supposed to answer them.

You can staff efficiently even with bad planning and having too many people on the phone. It's called voluntary time off (VTO) and they NEVER have a problem finding volunteers. Cutting hours from a day is easy.

You can't staff efficiently without good schedule adherence expectations. If a center's schedule adherence is consistently BAD, you will consistently be UNDERstaffed. And there is no efficient way to recover from that. Adding employee hours back is almost impossible.

Almost all call centers allow supervisors/managers to use some leeway for employees that deserve it. But that has a limit, and you are typically limited in how long you can cover for someone.

It sounds to me like the exception they offered her - clocking out each time she needed to use the restroom beyond her break periods - was an extremely fair and lenient one. That's more than most centers will do (legal departments have nightmares about exceptions like that).

Saying "just have her work extra" would work just fine in a different setting. In a call center, her willingness to work an extra hour at the end of the shift to cover for an extra 5 or 6 bathroom breaks is nice, but it only works if the center needs extra staffing at that time.
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Old 05-03-2013, 04:49 PM   #92

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Just to set the scene, here are a few things that happen when a call center is run inefficiently (not answering calls in timely fashion):

1) Queues build up, and customers wait longer.
2) Employees have no time between calls (no more than 3-5 seconds) to catch their breath/clear their head before the next call comes in
3) Those customers that were waiting longer? They're pissed off about waiting forever when they DO get someone to help them, and more difficult to deal with.
4) Breaks are shortened. People with hour breaks are reduced to 1/2 breaks to compensate and help catch up the queue.
5) More bodies are thrown at the queue in an effort to stem the bleeding. Often, these are employees with less experience or expertise, and they have difficulty providing the same level of service (each wrong answer given creates 2-4 more calls down the line)

An inefficient call center makes the lives of its employees a living hell (short breaks, 8 hours a day talking to angry/annoyed people on the phone, no time between calls) and makes the customers of the call center unhappy.

This is one of the reasons the call centers in India are so popular. They work for less money and the workers are much, much more reliable (in general) in terms of schedule adherence, which makes staffing much, much easier.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:20 PM   #93
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Originally Posted by J Diddy View Post

Problem solved.
This could be more simple it just depends..

depends photo: Depends Depends.jpg
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:57 PM   #94

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Originally Posted by DJ's left nut View Post
I feel like nobody that has posted after Duncan's extremely well stated post actually read Duncan's extremely well stated post.

We have a call center in my office. The job looks like it sucks something terrible but those time standards exist because they have to exist.

"Well just let her work more later..." isn't a viable answer - someone needs to be there to take those calls and if the calls don't get taken timely, call centers default on time-standards and end up fired.

Yes, it's only one person and 5 minutes here and there may not be the end of the world, but the rules exist for a reason and the rules in these instances are not arbitrary and mean-spirited. They're generally built around the requirements put in place by the people that have contracted out with these call centers.

The alternative? Everyone gets fired when the contract gets cancelled.

Sometimes your boss has a reason to do what he does. In fact, most times that's the case.

But by all means, continue raging against the machine.
I really hate articles like this because they're so desperate to paint the picture of the big bad corporation vs the helpless peon (helpless pregnant peon). I do think letting her make up the time is a viable solution in theory, but 1) it's not rocket science and I'm sure they could have come to the same conclusion, and 2) we have no idea if she's worth those 5 minutes lost during peak times.

Where I worked, the top 10% were incredibly valuable to the overall metrics, because the bottom ~30% were pretty terrible at their job. If she was one of the best employees there, she's probably worth the extra 5 minutes every hour or two. If she was already dragging down the metrics, having her clock out so her metrics didn't tank the averages even further was probably their only option.

Most of the anti-corporate stuff in these types of threads is just another example of Dunning Kruger... big meanie bosses with multiple degrees who busted his ass for years don't know anything while the hourly guy who's been there 3 months has it all figured out.
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