January 16, 2019

3rd Party Vendor Claims TCPA Violation on Behalf of AT&T

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.

Even with independent parties calling on your behalf, your brand is on the hook for costly TCPA violations and fines. Be in control of marking done on your behalf with Gryphon.