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Techs triumph: Comcast and contractor agree to $7.5 million settlement

Though Comcast is the nation's largest internet service provider and biggest cable TV company, its services and products aren't widely available in Milwaukee. If the company does make inroads here, it might well do so with O.C. Communications Inc., a contractor that provides Comcast with the technicians who go into customers' homes to install cable TV.

O.C. Communications Inc. says on its website that it "is only as good as its employees." But details of how O.C. Communications treats its employees were revealed in a federal wage-and-hour class-action lawsuit and those details paint a different picture. Techs complained that they were not paid overtime and that many were denied meal breaks and had to buy their own tools.

Unsurprisingly, O.C. Communications and Comcast both denied the allegations. But the settlement of the lawsuit that the companies reached with about 4,500 workers also paints a different picture: they agreed to pay $7.5 million. Both O.C. and Comcast had no comment on the settlement.

Hundreds of techs involved in the class-action suit wrote the court to tell their stories of being denied overtime pay and being ordered to work through meal breaks and buy their own tools, supplies and uniforms.

The plaintiffs' employment law attorneys said if the lawsuit went to trial, they would prove that techs were required to work an average of 2.5 hours per day off the clock - hours for which they received no pay. Lawyers said that legal exposure for Comcast and O.C. Communications in a trial could exceed $46 million, including penalties.

The case shows that when workers unite and point out wage-and-hour violations, even enormous companies such as Comcast (owner of Xfinity, NBC, Universal Pictures and many others) can be compelled to comply with federal and state law.

If you and co-workers are being denied overtime, minimum wage, meal breaks or have been misclassified as contractors or salaried employees, contact a Milwaukee employment law attorney about steps you can take to protect your workplace rights.

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