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Overtime For Work on Phones? Judge to Decide in Chicago Case

August 26, 2015  | 

A federal judge is set to decide whether Chicago police officers should have received overtime pay for answering work-related calls and emails after hours, a case that could help clarify what it means for an employee to be off the clock in the age of smartphones, reports the Associated Press.

At the end of a bench trial, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier heard closing arguments Monday in a class-action lawsuit brought by Chicago Police Sgt. Jeffrey Allen and 50 other members of an organized crime unit. They claimed the city owes them millions of dollars in back pay for work they performed on department-requisitioned BlackBerry phones.

A central question in Chicago is whether there was an unwritten rule requiring that officers stay engaged on their phones and responded to inquiries from superiors 24 hours a day.

Schenkier is expected to rule within several weeks on the Chicago case, which is one of several nationwide that could help draw a clearer line on whether employees must be compensated for answering calls or responding to emails after hours.

Comments (1)

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kevCopAz @ 8/29/2015 8:40 AM

This at first seems to be a $ grab, but not really its about time. When I worked in Phx (OCB/Gangs/Repeat Offenders) we had to carry a pager (dated myself) and comunicate 24/7 with officers. I was called several times each and every night while in ROP. All Detectives i the unit had the same issue, yet only 1 Detective and only on weekends would get "stand-by" pay (1 hr pay). If you did not do this you would have been licked from the unit. I spent years with being awakened several times a night, sometimes responding to a job (got paid then) but for the most part 3 or more calls per night without any compensation. This really was (is still?) and issue and the officers deserve the pay, or the requirement should end. The Departments have been able to eliminate having more cops assigned to those units (24 hr coverage) for years and should either get more cops, ay the OT or stop requiring the cops to answer. End of story.

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