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Tiffanny Brosnan, partner at Snell & Wilmer LLP  

Click Here for Tiffanny Brosnan's Bio

Friday, September 18, 2009
Employers: Ready for the swine flu?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Don't hire a future plaintiff
PDAs and hidden wage-hour violations
“I’m just going to check my e-mails before going to bed.” “I’ll shoot off a quick text message while waiting in line for my coffee.” These are the thoughts of a conscientious, productive employee, right? The type of employee you want. What about the supervisor who expects his subordinates to answer cell phone calls at all hours of the day and night?

These are the employees who will end up costing you. Under the wage-hour laws, when you are dealing with hourly employees who are nonexempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements, they must be compensated for all “time worked,” regardless of whether it is in the office, at home or at the coffee shop. But employees typically don’t record this time.

Failure to compensate employees for that time is a violation. If the time spent is above and beyond the normal eight-hour day, then you also incur overtime violations. Employers will be responsible for the wages (and possibly the overtime wages), penalties and attorney’s fees.

Perhaps an even less obvious example is what is known as "sync-time." This typically arises with employees who telecommute. They might routinely be required to “sync up” their PDA to the company’s network. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have picked up on this practice as well. It’s an easy class-action target.

So how can you minimize your liability?

Create a policy explaining that employees will be compensated for all hours worked. Follow that policy! Require employees to accurately record all of their time worked and then verify their time cards every payroll period. Audit employees’ time records. (Hint: Be suspicious of exactly eight-hour days, every day, every week. You employ people, not robots.) Discipline employees for not accurately recording their time.