CHICAGO — A federal court in Chicago has decided in favor of the city in an overtime suit brought by police officers alleging that the city violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The suit was originally brought in May 2010 and went to trial. The plaintiffs have already indicated that they will appeal the decision of the court.
Use of Blackberrys
The suit was filed by police officers who alleged that they were denied overtime pay for their off-duty use of work-issued Blackberrys. According to the plaintiffs, the city provided Blackberrys to members of the organized crime unit, and that the city expected these individuals to be on-call constantly and deal with frequent work-related emails, phone calls, and text messages. At the trial, the plaintiffs testified that they were terrified of submitting overtime requests since there was a culture in their unit of not submitting such requests. However, the city argued that there was no official department policy of denying overtime requests for off-duty use of Blackberrys, and evidence was presented of dozens of incidents where officers in the unit both requested and received overtime for Blackberry use.
The court agreed with the city. It decided against the plaintiffs because they failed to show that they were not compensated under any policy by the city that violated FLSA.
Potential Department of Labor Rule on Work-Related Smartphone Use After Work Hours
The Department of Labor has received questions and concerns regarding the use of smartphones or laptops for work-related purposes outside of regular work hours. These questions arose during the comment period for its proposed new rule governing overtime under FLSA, which was published in July 2015. The DOL indicated that it was beyond the scope of the rule, but that because of the importance of the issue, it would publish a Request for Information (RFI) to get information from stakeholders on the after-hours work-related use of electronic devices by employees covered by FLSA.
The use of electronic devices after work hours will continue to be a subject of FLSA litigation, and further guidance from the Department of Labor may provide more guidance on this issue. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel that you have been deprived of your wage rights due to employer requirements regarding work-related smartphone use after work hours. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.