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Lawsuit seeks overtime wages for ACS employees

Mark ThiessenAssociated Press

A class action complaint was filed Monday against Alaska Communication Systems Group alleging sales and marketing personnel were not paid for overtime work.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a former employee, Laura Lee Peterson of Anchorage, and others who are in similar positions at the wireless and broadband company, one of Alaska's largest employers with 855 employees.

Peterson's lawsuit alleges ACS "systemically denied the class of sales and marketing employees . . . overtime pay mandated" by the Fair Labor Standards Act and Alaska Wage and Hour Act by classifying them as salaried, rather than hourly.

"In furtherance of its scheme, despite illegally paying the employee on a salary basis, Alaska Communications still forces its sales and marketing employees to complete false time sheets indicating that they do not work overtime hours," it says.

ACS spokeswoman Heather Cavanaugh said the company has not been served with a lawsuit.

"Alaska Communications regularly monitors its employment practices. We abide by state and federal employment laws, value our team members and are committed to creating a healthy, positive work environment," she said in an email.

After repeatedly asking the company to change her employee classification, the lawsuit says, Peterson filed a complaint with the Alaska Department of Labor. The state agency on Nov. 1 sided with Peterson, according to the lawsuit.

The state labor department said Peterson was entitled to more than $100,000 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in damages, the lawsuit says.

One of Peterson's San Franciso-based attorneys, Janette Wipper, estimated that nearly 100 employees could be part of the class action. Most are based in Alaska, with a few in Hillsboro, Ore.

The class action would cover any employee who works or has worked as a full-time sales or marketing employee, below the level of vice president.

The lawsuit seeks compensation under the federal act going back three years, and two years under the state act.


By MARK THIESSEN
Associated Press