Former ATA Chairman Settles With Workers

Gordon McKenna agreed to pay ex-employees of a bankrupt call center company he once owned $364,138 to settle a labor lawsuit, according to court documents obtained by DM News.

The ex-employees had worked at Customer Satisfaction First, a teleservices company that McKenna founded, in the company's sole call center in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The settlement partially resolves fallout from McKenna's failed venture in Wilkes-Barre, after he lost control of his first business, TeleQuest. McKenna was once a prominent member of the teleservices community and is a past chairman of the American Teleservices Association.

In the lawsuit, ex-employees claimed McKenna failed to give them 60 days notice of his intent to go out of business and close the call center as required by the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act.

About 50 employees are named as plaintiffs. Under the settlement, they will split $35,817 for unpaid wages, personal and vacation time, bonuses and repayments for bounced checks, as well as $241,097 in penalties.

The rest is earmarked for attorney fees. Alan Crone, attorney for the ex-employees, did not return calls for comment.

McKenna abruptly closed the Wilkes-Barre call center before Christmas in December 2002, stating that Customer Satisfaction First was bankrupt. However, ex-employees accused McKenna of transferring the company's assets to a new call center business, Customer Service First., a Web site Customer Service First took over from Customer Satisfaction First, is no longer operational. Carolyn Price, McKenna's attorney, did not return a call for comment last week.

The Wilkes-Barre Redevelopment Authority, which owns the facility that Customer Satisfaction First operated, also has sued McKenna, seeking more than $700,000 in unpaid rent. Jack Dean, attorney for the authority, said he expected a ruling soon.

McKenna was formerly CEO of TeleQuest, once a rapidly growing teleservices company. He lost control of TeleQuest in June 2000 after the company declared bankruptcy and a judge appointed a trustee to oversee it.

McKenna resigned as ATA chairman in January 2001 after allegations of mismanagement at TeleQuest. An India-based holding company bought TeleQuest in November 2000, renaming it e-Telequest.

In 2001, McKenna founded Customer Satisfaction First and took over the call center facility in Wilkes-Barre. A previous tenant had just left the facility, and McKenna's arrival was considered a boon since the town needed rent to pay back a bond it had issued to construct the facility.

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