Verizon Communications is a telecom company that has been in business since 1983 when it operated under the name Bell Atlantic. The business has grown to become one of the biggest telecommunications and wireless companies in the nation. While Verizon has grown and expanded its operations and enjoyed a prosperous business, it has had its share of legal problems. Through the years Verizon has been named in numerous lawsuits, some of the class-action. Verizon has been accused of multiple counts of overcharging customers with third-party fees and assorted mystery fees that were hidden on their bills. It is worth noting that Verizon has agreed to settlements in many cases, to prevent further legal action. Some of the cases have been sealed but some of them were made public. Here are the ten biggest known Verizon lawsuits in the history of the company.
10. Verizon Wireless class-action lawsuit for wage theft Settlement amount: $1.9 million
Verizon Wireless was named in a lawsuit that accused the company of wage theft. West Virginia resident Neil Rosenbohn was an employee of a Marietta, Ohio Verizon store. He alleged that the company did not adequately pay employees for the end of the closing shifts, in violation of labor laws, resulting in wage theft. Verizon’s policies required workers to clock out and then remain in the store to finish their closing duties without being paid for the 15 to 20 minutes they spend completing their assignments. When Rosenbohm complained to management, he was fired. Verizon maintained this policy from May 2015 through January 2017. The lawsuit seeks $1.9 million in damages and restitution with $650,000 going to the attorneys, $47,000 for court expenses, and an undisclosed amount to Rosenbohm. A judge approves the settlement.
9. Verizon Wireless was accused of making unauthorized charges to customer accounts Settlement amount: $10 million
Verizon was named in a class-action lawsuit for conspiring with warranty provider Asurion to sneak unauthorized charges for smart home support into customer’s bills and hide the charges. Stephen Simoni proposed the class-action lawsuit against Verizon claiming that the charges were added to customers’ bills without giving them proper notification or contacting them in advance of the charges. This is the second such lawsuit filed against Verizon, affecting over 150,000 customers in various states throughout the nation.
8. Verizon named in EEOC disability lawsuit Settlement amount: $20 million
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Verizon by the EEOC for disability discrimination. The plaintiffs alleged that Verizon denied reasonable accommodations to employees. It further claims that hundreds of workers were fired or disciplined, unlawfully in alignment with the “no-fault” attendance policy of Verizon. The EEOC charged that Verizon defaulted to its no-fault policy to avoid making reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. The $20 million class-action lawsuits seek monetary compensation, and additionally, Verizon must revise its attendance policies to include reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. It further seeks Verizon to be ordered to provide ADA training for its employees that administer attendance policies. Verizon is charged with educating its management about the legal requirements of the American with Disabilities Act and for ensuring that each employee receives fair and reasonable accommodations when requested.
7. Verizon named in lawsuit for charging mystery fees to customers over several years Settlement amount: $52.8 million
The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau claimed that Verizon Wireless charged mystery fees to its customers of $1.99. 15 million customers were affected by the mystery charges that were without their consent or knowledge about why the fees were being charged. The FCC watches out for the well-being of the public to stop these predatory practices and hold companies responsible for paying back the amounts they illegally bilk from the public, along with fines. This is the largest payment of its kind in FCC history. The agency investigated claims of the overcharges for ten months. Verizon Wireless was required to pay the Treasury to ensure that consumers receive their refunds and that Verizon will no longer charge the illegal fees. The FCC is out in force to protect consumers from these predatory practices, and to hold companies that take advantage of consumers’ lack of knowledge about billing practices.
6. Verizon named in Family SharePlan lawsuit Settlement amount: $64.2 million
Top Class Actions reports that a class-action lawsuit was filed against Verizon, alleging that customers on the SharePlan were over-billed between May 11, 2002, through May 10, 2006. The overbilling occurred over four years. Customers were charged for in-network calls that were advertised as being free. Verizon charged each customer .45 for each overage minute, not the .25 that was the standard charge. Verizon agreed to settle the lawsuit instead of pursuing further litigation. As a part of the settlement agreement, Verizon paid $36.7 million to a settlement fund and $27.5 million in credits issued for free domestic and international calls. The latter was to be issued to customers that were the victims of incorrect charges for the in-network calls. Verizon agreed to the amount of $64.2 million. This was not the only lawsuit that Verizon settled for overcharging its customers.
5. Verizon and other cellphone providers sued for overcharging government customers Settlement amount: $68 million
Sacramento reports that a lawsuit was filed against Verizon a, AT&T% Mobility, Sprint, and T-Mobile, in a California lawsuit that claimed government customers were overcharged for wireless services. The lawsuit further alleges that the excessive charges continued for over ten years. The claims were submitted to the California Attorney General, who declined to sue. The case was picked up by a whistleblower in 2012 in an independent lawsuit filed on behalf of the state. The communication providers were also accused of offering the lowest rates and customized plans, but instead, overinflating the charges. Verizon and the other wireless communications providers denied any wrongdoing in the case, but they agreed to a joint settlement amount of $116 million. AT&T paid $48 million, Spring and T-Mobile paid a combined sum of $9.6 million and Verizon paid the larger share of $68 million. They opted to settle the case rather than go through an expensive litigation process.
4. Verizon sued in 2020 lawsuit for overcharging government customers Settlement amount: $76 million
Verizon and AT&T were named in a class-action lawsuit to settle multiple whistleblower lawsuits for overcharging Nevada and California government customers for wireless services. The first such lawsuits were settled in 2012. Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that the charges assessed by Verizon and AT&T Mobility were filed as a California False Claims Act settlement, with this case being the largest settlement of its kind in the history of California. Plaintiffs include thirty California government entities and government customers in the state of Nevada. The two wireless companies are the largest wireless providers in the nation. They agreed to a settlement amount of $127 million, which brings the total amount paid to settle California and Nevada Whistleblower cases to $138.7 between the two giants and Sprint and T-Mobile. The ongoing cases claimed that false promises were made to government customers, and not delivered upon. The case was settled in September 2020 with both wireless providers denying wrongdoing but agreeing to the terms to resolve the case.
3. Verizon sued for overcharging government customers in qui tam lawsuit Settlement amount: $93.5 million
Phillips and Cohen reports that a whistleblower lawsuit was filed against Verizon for overcharging the government for data and voice communication services. The lawsuit was not publicized until recently. A whistleblower alleged that Verizon created surcharges that appeared to be taxed, but Verizon was not legally entitled to impose the fees on the government. Verizon charged the government for costs that were linked with communication services and additionally charged the government for Verizon property taxes and costs of doing business. Verizon was legally obligated to pay those taxes, not the government, which means that Verizon engaged in fraudulent billing practices.
2. Verizon sued in a personal injury lawsuit Settlement amount: $125 million
Mazie Law reports that Verizon was named in a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey. A woman was severely injured when a Verizon utility pole fell on her. She was standing on the sidewalk waiting for a public bus to make her morning commute to work. The pole fell on her head and body, crushing ribs, injuring her back, and causing brain trauma and vision difficulties. She is paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of her right arm but survived her injuries. The lawsuit was a landmark event that amounted to the most expensive personal injury recovery in the history of the state of New Jersey. The Verizon utility pole had rotted and was in poor repair. It was the responsibility of Verizon to replace the pole to avoid posing a risk to the public. The injured party was paralyzed as a result of the incident.
1. Verizon sued for Cramming Settlement amount: $158 million
ABC News reports that Verizon was named in a lawsuit that accused the company of ‘cramming.” According to the FCC, cramming is the practice of adding small charges to customer bills, which are for unauthorized third-party products and services. It is an illegal practice that amounts to theft. It was determined by the FCC that cramming is a practice that has harmed tens of millions of wireless customers throughout the nation. Verizon added the charges until January of 2014. Verizon Wireless along with Sprint agreed to a settlement to pay $158 million to resolve the charges. This was one of many allegations of overcharging customers on their bills. These deceptive practices amount to stealing and the FCC has zero-tolerance for such behaviors.
Verizon Wireless is one of the largest telecommunication companies in the United States. Verizon is named in many lawsuits in the past few decades. They’re not the only ones. Many of the other large service providers have also been sued. Verizon is not the only telecom company to be accused of wrongdoing. Consumers are growing tired of trying to make sense of bills that provide long lists of fees and surcharges, and most are not willing to take the time to investigate the reasons for a small charge. Some of the larger companies bank on that and they add charges that should not be included on customers’ bills. Any deceptive practice in billing triggers a strong and swift response from the FCC. Their investigative and enforcement teams are quick to conduct their investigations, gather the facts, and proceed with remedies for all suspicions and proof of wrongdoing. Often Verizon, along with the other large telecom companies, admits no wrongdoing. They often claim that they have done nothing wrong. They agree to settlements because dragging the lawsuits out can become more expensive than settling, to resolve the legal issue. It’s is not to say that they’re not guilty of the accusations, but it’s hard to know for sure when so often, the cases never go to a jury trial as they settled in advance.