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May 14, 2010
Technology Raises Questions About Pay for Off-Duty, Work-Related Activities

Technology that keeps employees connected to the office when they are off duty could lead to wage and hour violations if employees can show that they were not compensated for work performed.

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In a BLR webinar titled "Reducing Overtime Costs: What You Legally Can—and Can't—Do to Keep Workers at Their Straight-Time Rates," Laura P. Worsinger, Esq., cautioned employers about a rise in lawsuits related to the use of technology, including Internet access, Blackberries, and cell phones.

Although technology makes it much easier to take a "work from home" day when a child is sick or to get caught up on email, such advances also give employers the ability to make 24/7 demands, and expect 24/7 responses from employees—even when they are off the clock.

With the blurring of "on the clock" and "off the clock," lawsuits have arisen:

  • Employees recently sued T-Mobile USA claiming they were required to use company-issued smart phones to respond to work messages after hours without pay as part of T-Mobile's "standard business practices."
  • A CB Richard Ellis Group maintenance worker seeks pay for time spent after hours receiving and responding to messages on a work-issued cell phone.
  • A California appellate court recently reinstated a case involving an employee of Lincare, who is claiming he is owed compensation for responding to customer's telephone inquiries while on call.

Laura P. Worsinger, Esq. is Of Counsel with the Los Angeles office of Dykema Gossett PLLC. She has broad counseling and litigation experience and specializes in the defense of employers in individual and class actions involving wage and hour violations, misclassification, discrimination, wrongful termination, and other employment-related proceedings. She can be contacted at lworsinger@dykema.com.

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