Are You Entitled To Overtime Compensation For Time Spent On Your Blackberry?

A Chicago police officer has recently filed a lawsuit claiming he is entitled to overtime compensation for hours spent responding to email off-hours. According to National Public Radio (NPR), the police officer asserts that he is entitled to a significant amount of back-pay because he was required to log onto his Blackberry to continue working even though his shift was over.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees are generally entitled to be paid for all time worked, including pay at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any workweek. When hourly employees are required to carry a smart phone, and expected to respond to e-mails off hours, time spent working can add up. Even 15 minutes a day can become a significant sum when accumulated over time.

The Chicago case is not the first of its kind. Over the last several years, employees have increasingly challenged employer expectations that “they need to bring the office onto the bus,” i.e., that they work via Blackberry or smart-phone in their down-time, such as while on lunch break, commuting, or at home, without additional compensation.

Despite the attachment many of us feel for our smart phones, where employers require employees to carry a Blackberry, iPhone or other smart phone, employees may feel that they have no time-off at all. As a result, many are advocating smart-phone usage policies clearly delineating an employer’s expectations – and an employee’s right to compensation.

For more information, or if you believe you have been denied all overtime compensation due, please contact Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, a Georgia law firm dedicated to employee’s rights.