UPDATE 1-Bank of America workers across US sue for overtime

Sat Jun 5, 2010 3:51pm EDT

* Overtime pay, no breaks alleged

* Lawsuit on behalf of retail branch, call center workers

* "Hundreds of millions" of dollars could be at stake

* Bank says practices designed to comply with labor laws (Adds comments from plaintiffs' lawyer, potential recovery)

NEW YORK, June 5 (Reuters) - Workers for Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), one of the nation's largest employers, have sued the company for allegedly failing to pay overtime and other wages.

The lawsuit filed on Friday in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, consolidates 12 lawsuits filed on behalf of employees in California, Florida, Kansas, Texas and Washington.

It seeks nationwide class-action status on behalf of employees at Bank of America retail branches and call centers over the past three years.

George Hanson, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the case could eventually cover more than 180,000 workers, based on information provided by the bank. That could lead to a recovery in the "hundreds of millions" of dollars, assuming a typical employee was deprived of $1,000 to $2,000 in pay, he said.

According to the 44-page complaint, the largest U.S. bank by assets requires employees to work in excess of eight hours a day or 40 hours a week, yet fails to pay them both for overtime and for all straight time worked.

The complaint also accuses Bank of America of requiring employees to work during unpaid breaks, failing to provide meal and rest breaks, and failing to timely pay terminated employees for earned wages and accrued vacation time.

"Bank of America enjoys millions of dollars in ill-gained profits at the expense of its hourly employees," violating either the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or various state labor laws, the complaint said.

Shirley Norton, a Bank of America spokeswoman, said the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank would defend against the lawsuit, and had comprehensive policies and training to ensure compliance with all federal and state wage and hour laws.

Bank of America as of March 31 employed 283,914 people worldwide, and operated 5,939 U.S. branches.

The federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in April had directed that the 12 original cases be combined.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status, a halt to the alleged illegal conduct, compensatory and punitive damages and other remedies.

The case is In re: Bank of America Wage and Hour Employment Practices Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, No. 10-md-2138. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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