EMPLOYMENT: Are Your Employees Too Connected to Their Work?
By Ryan T. Neumeyer
In today’s workforce, many employees have personal digital assistants (PDA’s), such as an iPhone or Black Berry. These employees may be required to respond to emails and text messages outside normal working hours. This may create problems for an employer with respect to employees who are non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Ohio minimum wage law.
Generally, in a situation where an employee is non-exempt and works outside normal working hours, said employee must be compensated for all time worked. In addition, said employee must be compensated at a rate of time and a half when he works over 40 hours in a particular week. If the employee is not properly compensated and proper records are not kept regarding such work, a company may be faced with a lawsuit that alleges violations of the FLSA or Ohio’s wage and hour laws.
A single claim filed by one employee under Ohio’s wage and hour laws may inflict large damage awards. However, such a claim may proliferate into a class action with the potential of astronomical damages. Further, such a claim may be very difficult to defend against since the employee or employees will generally have the evidence of engaging in such work on their PDA’s.
Accordingly, companies that have non-exempt employees who use a PDA are advised to review their policies and actual practices. Companies must make certain that non-exempt employees are not being requested to use such devices when they are not “on the clock.” Furthermore, companies must ensure that supervisors are not contacting said employees and requiring them to engage in work during off hours. Lastly, if said employees are required to respond to emails and messages after hours, they should be compensated for their time.
It will most certainly be less expensive in the long run to devise a time-keeping system and pay employees for time spent on their PDA’s at home, then it will be to defend against a class action lawsuit. As such, now is a good time to take an inventory of employees who have PDA’s and are being required to use them to complete their work after hours.
As always, the employment attorneys at Ross, Brittain and Schonberg will be sure to advise you regarding any and all obligations under the FLSA and Ohio’s wage and hour laws. Please do not hesitate to contact Lynn Schonberg or Ryan Neumeyer with any questions you may have regarding the FLSA, Ohio’s wage and hour laws or any other employment laws.