Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Ann Arbor Google call center closure causes loss of 430 jobs

Some 430 employees of Teleperformance USA have lost their jobs at an Ann Arbor call center, and that call center is now closed. The layoffs, which occurred this month, resulted from the firm's loss of its contract with Google. Google whose name has become synonymous with Internet searches, confirmed that it is not renewing its contract with Teleperformance to provide customer service support. The representatives in the Ann Arbor call center handled technical support for Google products.

Neither company announced why the contract was not renewed. Teleperformance did say that it had engaged in "several months of good faith negotiations" to renew the contract. Google did note that the jobs would be going to other U.S.-based employees, although the company did not specify precisely where those employees were located.

While the announcement of the call center closure and layoffs seemed particularly abrupt, Teleperformance asserts that it was in compliance with federal requirements that employers give workers 60 days' notice in advance of major layoffs. In an earlier article in the "Detroit Free Press," it said that the advance notice was not required because these were "business circumstances that were not reasonably foreseeable."

Likely, the company, whose U.S. headquarters are in Utah, had its legal team involved in the layoff process to ensure compliance with the federal government's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. Teleperformance says it did provide severance packages to the 368 customer service representatives and the other call center employees, including managers, supervisors and trainers.

While any business dissolution or even an office closure impacts employees, this contract non-renewal does not mean the end of either Google's or Teleperformance's presence in Michigan. The search engine behemoth has over 300 employees in our state - specifically in Ann Arbor and Birmingham. It also leases office space in the building where the call center was located. It was not reported whether they will continue to use that space.

Meanwhile, just last year, Teleperformance opened a call center near Grand Rapids, in Cascade Township. Part of the funding for that call center came from the Michigan Strategic Fund, which works to promote and incentivize economic growth in our state.

Source:  Detroit Free Press, "Loss of Google contract leads to layoff of 430 Ann Arbor call center workers" JC Reindl, Jan. 18, 2014

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