(CHICAGO) -- If you get paid by the hour and answer work-related phone calls and emails at home, should you be compensated? Yes, according to a Chicago police officer, who filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming that he should be paid overtime when he conducts business at home via the Blackberry his department issued him.
The suit has been given a green light to move forward as a class action.
Paul Geiger, the attorney for Sgt. Jeffrey Allen, says hourly employees should be paid if they are required to use their smartphones at home.
"If they have a half hour phone call outside of work hours to a superior about a search warrant they are gonna work on the next day, that is something that needs to be paid for," Geiger argues.
Or else, he says, it violates the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Robert Bruno, a labor law expert at the University of Illinois-Chicago, says the lawsuit has merit.
"It would seem to me that every one of those phone calls is a work-related call. And they would add up," he explains.
Noting that technology is running far ahead of the law, Bruno says, "Labor law in the United States to a great extent needs a real house cleaning."
If the lawsuit in federal court is successful, it could mean millions of dollars in back pay.
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