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Blackberry Overtime Lawsuit

Published by on October 12, 2010

Chicago Police Sergeant Jeffrey Allen has filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago on behalf of himself and similarly situated members of the Chicago Police Department.  Mr. Allen alleges that the City of Chicago failed to properly compensate him and […]

Chicago Police Sergeant Jeffrey Allen has filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago on behalf of himself and similarly situated members of the Chicago Police Department.  Mr. Allen alleges that the City of Chicago failed to properly compensate him and other non-exempt (or “hourly”) police officers for the time that they spent outside of their normal working hours reviewing and responding to emails or calls received on personal data assistants (“PDAs”) issued by the City.  More after the break.

The Chicago Police Department allegedly provided certain hourly members of the Police Department with PDAs and required such employees to answer incoming messages within a very short time at all times.  Mr. Allen claims that he often received numerous calls, emails, and text work orders on his City-issued PDA and he was “expected to respond to such communication throughout the night and into the early morning hours while off duty.”  The First Amended Complaint alleges that the City’s failure to pay Mr. Allen and similarly situated police officers for the overtime they spent “off the clock” using their PDAs violates the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  For a copy of the First Amended Complaint, click here.          

Similar class action lawsuits under the FLSA alleging off the clock use of PDAs have been filed against multiple other employers.  For example, T-Mobile recently settled a class action filed against it by sales representatives who sought to recover unpaid overtime on the basis that they were required to check their PDAs at all times.  Additionally, CB Richard Ellis has been sued by a former employee who alleges that he and other employees were required to answer all communication received on their PDAs within 15 minutes without receving compensation for the time spent doing so.   

A clear policy prohibiting non-exempt employees from using their PDAs while off the clock may limit an employer’s liability in a lawsuit under the FLSA and related State wage and hour laws.  Should you like assistance in drafting such a policy, please contact Eric Welter at 703.435.8500.

Additional articles on the issues raised by non-exempt employees using PDAs off the clock can be found here and here.

Contributed by Laura B. Chaimowitz

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