Workers Pay the Price for Corporate America’s Smartphone Addiction


Emails, calls, texts, Slack, WhatsApp, GroupMe, Twist, and other communication applications are all available on your phone or tablet and within your reach Seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Technology has provided the world with a minimum of a half dozen ways to reach you anywhere, anytime. Employers in corporate America are very aware of this, and all-too-eager to leverage technology to their advantage, and often in violation of state and Federal Law.

The Fair Labor Standards Act also referred to as the FLSA, and similar state laws across the country require employers to pay you for all work that benefits your employer if you are paid hourly or are otherwise classified as “non-exempt” from the laws. That means that employers must pay their employees for all the work they do, whether that work is performed during their regularly scheduled shift or outside their normal work hours – even if that work is performed remotely. This was not as much of a problem when “mobile phones” were first made available to the public. Those first phones could only handle phone calls or basic text messages were expensive and were frequently paired with data plans that limited minutes or text abilities. Now, almost every mobile plan includes unlimited text messages, and many plans also include data usage. As a result, managers think nothing of texting their employees at any time of the day or night. To make matters worse, many employers require their employees to download specific apps to their mobile devices to make off-the-clock communication even easier!

Many employees fail to realize how much unpaid time their employers are stealing from them using off the clock communication. A phone call here, a text there, a follow-up email – it all adds up. As little as ten minutes a day spent on calls, texts, and emails adds up to over an hour a week – an hour that frequently should be paid at the overtime rate of one and a half times the employee’s hourly wage! The savings to company’s – at the expense of their employees – quickly adds up. For example, an employee who is paid $12 an hour and works 40 hours a week “on the clock,” but spends an average of 10 minutes every day, including their days off, on off-the-clock calls, emails, and texts, is giving up an about $20 per week in pay. After one year, that employee gives up over $1,000.00 in free work to his or her employer – more than two entire weeks of pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows employees to recover their unpaid overtime going back up to three years and allows employees to recover double the amount they are owed. So, an employee owed $1,000 per year of unpaid overtime could recover up to $6,000.00 of unpaid wages. Most hard-working employees would never agree to work for free for more than two weeks – but that is exactly what employers are getting their employees to do every year by demanding that they be available to respond to calls, texts, messages, and emails “off the clock.”

Most employers are aware that the Fair Labor Standards Act makes it illegal for them to have their employees perform work remotely, or otherwise, without paying them for their work. But many employers do it anyway – they save hundreds of thousands of dollars – even millions – by not paying for this work, even though having their employees available at the press of a button is a tremendous benefit for them. If companies can get away with having their employees pay the price for 24/7 access to their workforce, they will.

Shavitz Law Group, P.A. is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers and preventing companies from illegally profiting at their workers’ expense. If you are not being paid for all of the work you do remotely and would like to recover they pay your employer owes you, please contact us at info@shavitzlaw.com or (800) 616-4000 or complete the Contact Us form on our website shavitzlaw.com, and a member of our law firm will contact you for an evaluation of your case.

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