Ericsson faces class action lawsuit by tower techs for unpaid wages stemming from meal break deductions

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

The complaint said that Ericsson allegedly deducted 30-minute meal periods from the employees’ hours, despite knowing that the technicians could not take these breaks.

MEALS ON STEELS – The complaint alleges that Ericsson deducted 30-minute meal periods from the employees’ hours despite knowing the tower technicians could not always take these breaks. Often, tower techs will quickly eat while on a structure, rather than the company requiring them to descend to take their meal break and then ascend to their work position. The lawsuit also states the techs were not paid for mandatory online training hours.

Ericsson, Inc. is facing a class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The lawsuit, initiated by tower technicians Ryan Brewer and Kenneth Wiles on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, accuses Ericsson of failing to pay appropriate wages and overtime to its hourly tower technicians across the United States.

According to the complaint, Ericsson automatically deducted 30-minute meal breaks from the technicians’ daily hours, even though these breaks were often not taken due to the nature of their work. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that mandatory online training hours were only partially compensated, if at all.

Typically, tower techs would be reluctant to join in a lawsuit like this because they would be concerned that it could deter their career advancement within the company.

However, last October, citing unprofitable contracts, Ericsson shut down its field services operations, laying off its tower technicians who provided self-performing services for the equipment manufacturer.

The total number of technicians let go is unknown, although Ericsson said that approximately 750 employees were terminated. Buying into the unsupported mantra that there would be an urgent need to add 20,000 tower technicians to build out 5G at scale, Ericsson established state-of-the-art tower technician training centers and, by February of 2022, celebrated its 100th graduating class.

The case alleges that Ericsson systematically violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Massachusetts Minimum Fair Wages Act, among other state laws. The plaintiffs claim that despite regularly working more than 40 hours per week, they were not compensated for all hours worked, including overtime.

The plaintiffs allege that Ericsson’s policies resulted in tower technicians working numerous hours “off-the-clock” without pay. The complaint said that Ericsson allegedly deducted 30-minute meal periods from the employees’ hours, despite knowing that the technicians could not take these breaks.

Also, the company reportedly required technicians to complete mandatory online training without compensating them for the actual time spent, often exceeding the pre-determined hours Ericsson allocated for such courses.

The complaint was originally filed on April 5, 2024, by New Hampshire Tower Technician 3 and assistant warehouse manager Ashley Hammett. On June 28, 2024, Ericsson moved to dismiss the complaint because Hammett signed a release and severance agreement waiving all claims arising from her employment with Ericsson, including claims under the FLSA and the Massachusetts wage payment statutes asserted in her complaint.

On the same day, Hammett’s counsel filed an amended complaint with the new plaintiffs, Brewer and Wiles.

An extension to answer the complaint due Friday to August 2, 2024, has been requested.