Ever make a work- related call or send an email from your Smartphone when
you weren’t actually “on the clock”? Most people seem
to be doing that these days, especially in busy Atlanta.
You may very well be entitled to overtime pay for those activities, under
some circumstances, as a new term has just leaped into the legal lexicon
in the last few months-“BlackBerry Overtime,” currently used
to describe work- related, electronic communications activities done from
remote communication devices outside of official work time.
This is a very new area of the law, but it may be one that is about to
get bigger. Employers often ask employees to run errands and do favors
outside of regular work hours without compensation. The advent of continual
emailing can only make that problem worse.
The most notable BlackBerry Overtime situation to this point concerned
writers working for ABC in New York last summer.
ABC News ran into a problem with the Writers’ Guild of America when
the company wanted three new writers to sign a waiver saying they would
not be paid for checking their company-issued BlackBerrys after normal
working hours. ABC responded to the Guild’s resistance to this waiver
by taking away all writers’ company-issued BlackBerrys.
After negotiations with their union, ABC agreed to pay overtime to writers
who put in “substantial work” out of regular work hours, but
not just for the occasional email or bright idea. The writers got their
What about actually working from home? Last July, an employee working at
home with a BlackBerry filed suit against Verizon Communications and a
subcontractor, alleging failure to pay overtime. The plaintiff is a “personal
account manager” who agreed to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday
through Saturday, a total of 72 hours a week. He works from home using
a company-provided BlackBerry.
The case is still in litigation.
If you have any questions as to whether or not your emails and other electronic
communications qualify for overtime pay,