Sutherland Global Services Inc. is accused of making unsolicited phone calls in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) on behalf of AT&T – and is now requesting that the class action be sent to arbitration. The company argues that it was acting as an agent for AT&T, but four months ago an Illinois federal judge rejected their first request to use an arbitration clause – claiming that Sutherland failed to prove they were acting on behalf of AT&T when making the calls.
Sutherland argued in contest that “the facts at issue show that AT&T was controlling the means and methods used by Sutherland in placing the calls at issue in every significant way.” The motion claims that AT&T established a contract with Sutherland in early 2014 classifying Sutherland as an independent contractor. However, there was an exception covering Sutherland making calls to AT&T’s customers. When making calls, the contract stated that Sutherland would be “acting as AT&T’s agent.”
3rd Party TCPA Violation
Further, AT&T’s lead project manager attested that AT&T controlled every aspect of the effort, including overseeing Sutherland’s work with an on-site manager, instructing Sutherland with what numbers to call, and providing scripts for Sutherland callers. Sutherland employees making calls were also instructed to identify themselves as AT&T customer service representatives.
Plaintiff James Thompson filed his original dispute against AT&T after Sutherland made calls to him in December 2015. He included Sutherland in his second dispute, but after receiving AT&T’s motion to compel, he decided to drop AT&T and only pursue Sutherland. Sutherland argues this was simply out of convenience as Thompson originally claimed Sutherland was acting on behalf of AT&T. “The test of agency is not determined by whatever is more advantageous for a plaintiff to argue at different stages in litigation,” stated Sutherland.