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12/2/2008
04:36 PM
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Employees Suing Sprint Over Commission Snafu

The wireless carrier is facing a class-action lawsuit over allegations that it shafted employees of commissions totaling more than $5 million.

Sprint is facing a lawsuit from thousands of retail store employees who say the wireless carrier has failed to pay them proper commission.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil said more than 19,000 former and current employees are potentially affected, and she granted the lawsuit class-action status last week.

Lawyers for the salesclerks said the integration of Sprint's and Nextel's back ends led to a computer system failure that did not give salesclerks their full commission on sales of new phones, calling plans, and accessories. The lawsuit alleges that certain employees missed out on $100 to $500 a month, leading to more than $5 million in lost commissions overall.

The third-largest wireless carrier in the United States has been ordered to produce a list of employees who were potentially affected by Dec. 22.

"Sprint Nextel has routinely denied its employees their commissions due," said Michele Fisher, an attorney representing salesclerks, in a statement. "The company also makes the internal process for appealing commission shortages so time-consuming and burdensome that many employees just give up pursuing their pay. We plan to help them recover what they earned and are pleased that they will be able to proceed as a class."

According to court documents, Sprint has said there was a computer problem, and the carrier spent nearly $10 million to fix it. The company did not acknowledge employees hadn't been paid the correct commission, though.

"We are disappointed with the certification," said Sprint spokesman Matthew Sullivan. "Sprint is committed to providing employees all the compensation to which they are entitled."

The class-action lawsuit is Sprint's latest brush with the court. The company was forced to pay $73 million in a California case regarding early-termination fees, and it's also facing a $1.2 billion class-action lawsuit over these cancellation fees.

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