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In a recent column, we discussed the lawsuit where an employee sued his employer for overtime pay spent using the company issued BlackBerry after hours.  Turns out, this has the potential to spread like wildfire as more employees are watching closely and considering their own lawsuits.  A. Harrison Barnes, lawyer and president of, says it’s the next hot button issue in the legal field – and it’s approaching rapidly.

While salaried employees aren’t likely to dispute their time spent away from the office, but on their cells, computers or smart devices, it’s those non-exempt or hourly employees who believe they are being taken advantage of.  “They work by the hour and every hour spent taking calls, whether it’s maintenance calls or calls to schedule meetings or even a last minute call by the boss as the employee is on his way home, is fair game”, explains Barnes.  Other employment experts agree and say a “wave of these lawsuits is inevitable”.

But will these concerns lead to more employers installing keystroke loggers or software designed to produce logs of work completed offsite?  It’s entirely possible, which is something employees don’t want.  “It’s the big brother complaint that too much monitoring reads distrust to an employee, but on the other hand, the employer has to protect himself, too”, says the founder.

Also, many who are threatening lawsuits now are ones who’ve recently been laid off or who have had their hours cut for economic reasons.  It’s entirely possible they’re attempting to recoup some of the lost wages that comes with a layoff.

So what’s the solution for employers?  A. Harrison Barnes says if employers are concerned, they can require employees to keep detailed records of time spent off the clock that they believe constitutes being on the job.  Another solution, of course, is the tracking efforts afforded by the many software applications available. Finally, some employers may withdraw the perk of company issued computers and smart phones.

It’s also important to keep in mind many of these complaints by employees have merit.  Those who can prove they spend their off time working for the company will fare better in a courtroom.  While this isn’t a critical issue yet, it’s likely to become on in the very near future.  The best bet for employers is to keep detailed hourly timesheets that include the employee’s signature each week.  “This way, you have documentation that the employee approved the number of hours he worked each week”.

For more information on Barnes, visit his site at and for the latest in employment news and current legal job openings, be sure to visit

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