Some industries are prone to emergencies that suddenly increase the workload. For example, when a hurricane or heavy storm knocks out power, someone has to go out and repair the lines. And some companies insist that all employees be available by phone or other means at least part of the time.
That doesn’t mean, however, that those subject to a mandatory call-out must be paid for the time they spend waiting for a call.
Recent case: Peter Jonites and other electric company linemen worked under a system that required them to be ready on two hours’ notice to come to work. The company excused the linemen from responding if they were already on sick leave or vacation, but otherwise they had to accept and report for 35% of the calls.
The linemen sued, alleging they should be paid for their waiting time. But the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. It said the inconvenience was minor since employees could go about their everyday lives as long as they could get to work within two hours of a call. Plus, they only had to accept about a third of the calls. (Jonites v. Exelon, No. 07-3053, 7th Cir., 2008)
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