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Feelings of exploitation, ‘e-overtime’ lead to rise in wage lawsuits

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in Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Taking work home and working off the clock is causing employees to feel they're being taken advantage of by their employers. And letting the situation fester is contributing in a big way to the rise in lawsuits over compensation.

That's the message from a study of 1,000 nonexempt workers by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA), a network of employment law attorneys based in San Francisco. The study says cell phones, e-mail, pagers and laptops have created a 24-hour workplace. But legal problems can crop up when that 24-hour employee isn't a member of management. Among the findings:

  • 31 percent said they work "e-overtime," spending at least three hours a week away from work responding to work-related com-munications. Fifty-five percent say they're not paid for that work.
  • 21 percent said their employer is "taking advantage" of them through current policies on work outside the office. Those who put in 10 or more extra hours a week feel the most exploited.
Advice: Don't expect nonexempt employees to be on call around the clock and take work home, but then pay them only for eight hours in the office. The study also says it's fear rather than dedication that prevents many of these workers from asking for their due. So take the initiative. Examine the true number of hours a job requires.

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