Checking Office Email on Your PDA? You Might be Owed Overtime Pay Under the Florida Overtime Wage Laws!

October 30, 2009

Let’s face it – the PDA the office gave you can be both a blessing and a curse! So can your office cell phone or Blackberry, for that matter. While it is great to be able to work from home and access your office information at any time, these devices are "electronic leashes" that can keep you plugged into the company 24/7. There are many employees out there who are still checking office email and returning phone calls from home long after the work day has ended. Because this type of technology is still fairly new, the laws are scrambling to keep up with the changes. The bottom line, though, is that your employer may owe you a Florida overtime wage if you check office email, text, or answer work-related phone calls after hours or off the clock.

  • If nothing else, employers should be aware that their exposure to overtime liability increases when employees use company PDAs.
  • Recently, several large companies such as T-Mobile, Verizon, BD Richard Ellis, and Lincare have been sued for back overtime pay resulting from employee use of cell phones and PDAs to text and to check email after working hours.
  • Lower-level workers (meaning non-executives) are often classified as non-exempt employees when it comes to the Federal overtime wage laws. If you are a non-exempt employee and have been issued a PDA, it increases the possibility that you won’t be properly compensated for time you have worked because of the need to frequently check the device for new messages. Checking email with a PDA is considered "work" and the practice can violate Federal Labor Standards Act and state wage laws due to adding extra working time to your day.
  • Working on a time-sensitive project? On-call? Often, an employee who carries a PDA or Blackberry can feel the need to constantly monitor and respond to emails and texts received on their PDA. After all, it would seem to be a hallmark of a good employee, right? While this may seem harmless because text messages and emails can be read and responded to quickly, it can lead to an employee who is "constantly" working. A prime example is the employee who carries a PDA and receives a message – just the act of reading the message, even without responding to it, can mean the employee was considered to be working. A message here, a message there – they can add up over the course of a week, month, or a year.
  • Checking email for updates, even during a lunch hour or a break period can mean you end up working more than the standard amount of hours per week. Things can get even more out of hand if you work for a company with a nationwide sales staff. This might mean checking in with employees on the opposite coast before or after your normal work hours because of time differences.The FLSA and Florida overtime wage laws require non-exempt employees to be paid for all time actually worked.

About 86% of the American workforce falls under the category of non-exempt employees according to the U. S. Department of Labor. If you have been given a PDA and you check office emails and send and receive work-related text messages, doing so may extend your work week beyond the standard of forty hours a week. The 20-30 or so minutes per week you innocently spend on office email after hours can add up to a lot of overtime during the course of a year. And, that means you may be entitled to overtime under the FLSA and the Florida overtime wage laws.

If you have a question or need information about PDA use and the Florida overtime wage laws, contact Florida overtime attorney Joseph M. Maus at 1-866-556-5529, visit his website at http://www.mauslawfirm.com, or email him today. The Law Office of Joseph M. Maus and Associates has handled some of the largest Florida overtime wage claims. Attorneys in their office were recently appointed in Federal Court as lead counsel in an Overtime Class Action against a large Fortune 500 Company. Call their offices today for a free consultation or to obtain more information on Florida overtime wage claims.


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