The Start Of Something Big?

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A police officer has sued the City of Chicago (on behalf of himself and others) seeking pay for time spent dealing with work-related phone calls, voice-mails, e-mails, text messages, and work orders via BlackBerry® devices and similar "personal digital assistants." The officer contends that these activities entitle the group to an award of overtime compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The potential for these claims has been lurking for awhile now, and the relevant FLSA principles are not new. What has changed is this: the explosion of 24/7 electronic communication has increased the frequency and expanded the circumstances, in which non-exempt employees perform after-hours and off-premises work. Join this with the strict requirements of a 70-year-old law that was designed for a bygone era, and you have the recipe for a lawsuit extravaganza.

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