Did you violate the law this weekend?

April 30, 2012 at 7:15 am 2 comments

Here is a Monday morning survey: 

  • Did you send out any e-mail to any of your employees over the weekend? 
  • Were those salaried employees? 
  • Did you violate the Fair Labor Standards Act? 
  • Can you imagine waking up with a lawyer every morning? 

There’s a great post this morning from the Harvard Business Review providing tips on how to better manage our e-mail addiction.  But the part of the post that most intrigued me was its reference to the fact that as overtime disputes become more common, the role that smart phones play in our workplace needs to be better regulated by many businesses.  For example, if you were watching your kid’s soccer game on Saturday, and sent an email asking your loan originator if a certain mortgage was approved, or if you contacted your secretary at 7:00 a.m. asking that a memo be sent, depending on the status of those employees, the time they spent on those projects should be counted against the 40-hour work week over which they are entitled to overtime.  As a matter of fact, last week U.S.A. Today reported that after years of layoffs, employees are bringing an increasing number of law suits alleging  misclassification of non-exempt employees as exempt employees with resulting overtime violations.

And remember there are special concerns in the financial sector since the Department of Labor has opined that most mortgage loan officers are non-exempt employees.  So what steps should we be taking to address these issues?  The most important one is to have strict policies as to which employees have access to company cell phones.  Remember, if there is simply no need to contact an employee outside of the workplace, then they shouldn’t need a phone.  Second,  policies should make clear who has access to cell phones and also include a reminder to supervisors that responding to email constitutes work.  Finally, the question as to who is and who is not an exempt vs. no-exempt employee is not as clear cut as you may think.  Depending on the size and complexity of your credit union, now would be a good time to sit down with your HR Professional and analyze the specific responsibilities of your employees to ensure that their classifications are correct.


Entry filed under: Compliance, Legal Watch, Regulatory. Tags: , , , .

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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