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After-hours emails and phone calls may be compensable time

Some New Yorkers continue to do work for their employers after they have gotten off of work and returned home. This may include responding to emails, returning calls and other tasks. If these employees are considered to be non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, their off-duty emails, phone calls and texts may be compensable under the labor laws.

If employees work after hours, their employers may be liable for paying them overtime compensation. When employers have constructive or actual knowledge that their non-exempt employees are doing after-hours tasks while they are at home or elsewhere, they might be required to compensate their employees.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit examined a similar issue in a case involving the Chicago Police Department. In that case, police officers claimed that the time they spent off-duty on their Blackberry devices should be compensable as overtime. However, the department's overtime rules clearly made provisions for the workers to submit their claims for overtime, and the workers had not done so. The court thus ruled in the department's favor.

People who believe that their employers may have violated the wage and hour laws by failing to pay overtime might want to talk to employment law attorneys. Lawyers may review what happened along with the employers' overtime policies. They may then offer assessments of whether or not valid grounds exist for wage and hour claims. If an attorney agrees to accept a case, they may then work to recover the compensation that is owed to their client.

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