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Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

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T-Mobile agrees to pay back wages for overtime

By Bloomberg News

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WASHINGTON — Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom, agreed to pay $4.78 million in back wages for breaking a law on overtime pay, the U.S. Department of Labor said yesterday.

The settlement averages about $233 per employee and covers three years of back pay for 20,546 workers at the wireless-telephone carrier's 13 customer-call centers, including one in Bellingham.

T-Mobile didn't admit liability "or any alleged facts" under the agreement filed with the U.S. District Court in Seattle, which must approve the pact.

An investigation at three call centers found the company didn't pay employees for "preparatory activities" before shifts began, the department said. T-Mobile must pay the back wages by Feb. 22, according to the court filing.

Kim Thompson, a T-Mobile spokeswoman, said the company's own probe, along with the government's, found that some employees "may have started their shifts a few minutes early and failed to fully record this time."

Deutsche Telekom doesn't report T-Mobile USA's sales and earnings separately. T-Mobile International's U.S. operations, which include T-Mobile USA and its Powertel cellular service, had a profit of $107 million in the third quarter.

T-Mobile USA is the sixth-biggest U.S. wireless carrier by customers. German parent Deutsche Telekom is Europe's biggest phone company.


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