Friday, July 3, 2015
As the Fourth of July holiday is upon us, it is a good time to consider the following question: should non-exempt employees be compensated for time spent responding to work-related emails, texts, etc. It is extremely common for workers to be available to their employers now on a 24/7 basis via mobile devices. How much (if any) of this time should be compensable? An interesting article at Forbes.com looks at how this complex area may see the next flood of class action litigation. A recent California Appellate Court decision signals that at least some of the courts may be siding with workers in this area. That case looked more at the issue of whether an employer must compensate an employee for data usage on a personal device used for business purposes. From the Forbes article:
"It may be summertime with vacations underway, but the small and medium business clock hasn’t stopped or even slowed down. In a RAND survey published last year, 58.8% of employed Americans reported working during their vacation. Time away from work is rapidly becoming an oxymoron. . . . But there are a slew of troublesome complications emerging, especially when it comes to reimbursement. Recent enforcement of labor law in the state of California is increasing the threat of additional lawsuits around  reimbursement and no employer is exempt."
This case and issue is an important reminder that the FLSA -- and related state statutes -- were passed at a time when these modern technologies did not exist, often making these cases tough for the courts and litigants.
-- Joe Seiner