- Associated Press - Thursday, May 8, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Three former employees of a Boise call center laid off with some 1,600 other workers have filed a lawsuit in federal court contending they were led to believe their jobs would last longer.

The Idaho Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/1j7bg3w) that the lawsuit filed late last month in U.S. District Court in Boise says the former employees suffered harm when Maximus Inc. laid them off despite initially pitching the jobs as lasting much longer.

The lawsuit seeks $80,000 in damages and class-action status.

Maximus “made promises to (employees) regarding the nature and length of their employment that (they) relied upon to their detriment,” the lawsuit says.

The company last year hired about 1,800 workers for its Boise facility to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The company on Feb. 24 sent a letter to employees announcing that 1,600 would be laid off in April when the insurance enrollment period ended.

The lawsuit contends that employees were led to believe they were accepting “career” employment that would last through a 30-month contract the company had to run call centers. Two of the employees in the lawsuit say they quit jobs they had held for years at ITT Technical Institute and Verizon to work for Maximus. Another employee says she shut down a custom clothing and shoe company to take the job at Maximus.

Maximus has said that an employment offer letter told potential employees that the job was on an “at will basis” and could be terminated “at any time.”

A message left by The Associated Press at the company’s headquarters in Reston, Virginia, on Thursday wasn’t returned.

In related legal action, nine other call center employees in January filed a lawsuit against Maximus in U.S. District Court in Boise contending they were forced to work unpaid overtime and that the company mischaracterized their jobs.

The same attorneys are representing the former workers in both lawsuits.

___

Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com