back to article Lawsuit accuses T-Mobile of asking staff to email 'off the clock'

T-Mobile could face a class action lawsuit over claims that it made employees work without pay using mobile phones and email devices. The US suit highlights concerns about employee rights at a time of always-on communications. Law firm Pelton and Associates in New York has put out a call for people to join a class action over …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Only lawyers win class action suits

    You forgot to mention that in many CA suits, the lawyers get paid millions (or even billions) while the class members usually get stuck with coupons for a couple bucks off their next purchase of [FILL IN THE BLANK]

    Paris, 'cause she has no class but a lot of action.

  2. Mike007 Bronze badge

    easy to deal with

    I am doing freelance work from home, and i make a point of not replying to emails sent late friday night until monday, even though i may well be working on the project over the weekend

    it is freelance work so i can chose my hours - i typically am available and working at midnight etc when they send me emails, however even if i'm working at that time i won't answer them until the next "working day" purely so they don't get in to the habit of expecting me to be on call for them whenever they want me

  3. Paul 4

    Its not about that....

    "You think, oh it's a personal choice, how could you hold someone else liable for that? [But] we have done it – over and over again. When you look at the history of court actions on things that we might say really are personal responsibility, we have got that piece," she said. "When we look at how litigious as this society is everybody wants to sue for everything."

    I thought it was clear this is not about choice but people being obliged to answer these during non working hours. There is a big expectaion now that you read and reply to emails ASAP, even if they are in the middle of the night.

    I hope they do win, to make it clear to employers that it is peoples choice to answer emails on there blackbury or answer work calls when off work, not an obligation.

    Now just wait for the pile of coments saying "well we all have to do this blah blah blah".

  4. Joe Robertson

    Beware: if they win the current staff might find have to give up some salary

    I'm sure T-Mobile will be just as happy to deduct 15% off their salary bill, and pay a little overtime instead.

    Lose 15% salary: For every 40hr week you have to work approximately 6.0hrs overtime to make up for it ... and it will not be long before they start looking at the people claiming overtime. Then there is the different between your old salary benefits (pension contributions, etc) and your new lower salary.

    Although I agree the companies involved should be following the relevant labour laws it is interesting to see that it is a set of former employees who are once more pushing for this class action.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Give them a yard.....

    I was given a Blackberry once, i presume they expected me to work out of hours too.

    The thing was turned off and left in my desk at 5pm WITHOUT FAIL every day.

    They soon realised that as my contract didn't allow me overtime, i certainly wouldn't be doing unpaid out of hours work just because some twat tried to give me a digital leash, and so stopped expecting me to be available constantly.

    The blackberry was transferred to some spineless idiot who was at its beck and call 24/7. She didn't last long.

  6. Matt 13

    turn it off

    when i finish work, well, often a little before i finish, my work mobile is turned off and dumped in the bag along with work laptop...

    if your time is that valuable get a personal phone/email companion, etc and leave works one for work... in my experience calls from a work phone generally dont offer candy floss and parties, but more work!

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Didn't choose too...

    I actually do agree, if someone *chooses* to look at work E-mail and junk after hours, I wouldn't expect them to necessarily get paid for it -- they need to relax and quit worrying about work after hours. This cuts both ways -- just as it's not fair to expect unpaid overtime, it's also not fair for the employer to be hit with unexpected amounts of overtime when they didn't ask for anyone to work over.

    BUT that is not what this is about. They didn't CHOOSE to do look at this stuff after-hours; allegedly they were *required* too. Obviously T-Mobile should be sued BIG TIME for this, including punitive damages. How could they possibly think, you know, DOING WORK is not work?

  8. Adam Salisbury

    They'll Win

    It's America so of course they'll win it, regardless of whether or not they should. I don't get paid overtime in my current role so you know what you won't find me doing? That's right, overtime! It's not that hard really is it? If I were in that position I'd have refused the overtime and if any action was taken against me, that's when I'd nail them to wall good and hard.

    Mind you T-Mobile deserve all they get for treating both staff and customers like peasants so good on you crazy Merkins :D

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just in the 'States

    My sister-in-law is shop manager for a household UK chain (not phone-related) and she is expected to make sure all the necessary opening hours are covered, plus all necessary stock-checks, bank holiday cover etc - even though it means she is working well in excess of 40hrs a week, and often alone since The Management will not allow her to hire more staff.

    She cannot afford to lose her job as they would then be unable to pay their mortgage etc.

    What hope for her?

  10. IceMage

    Class Action Fail.

    "There is no equivalent form of action in the UK."

    Well, at least they're not as stupid over there. Class action lawsuit participants normally see about $20 in benefits, where the law firm that supports it ends up with millions of dollars in cash. They don't really correct the problem, they just profit over it.

  11. Hollerith 1

    Walking, not talking

    I was expected to do the 24/7 availability thing and quit after a while.

    Now i don't have a Blackberry or even a mobile phone. When I am at work am available, my land-line will do. When I am in a meeting, I wouldn't be so discourteous and inefficient as to answer a mobile. And after work hours, I am not contactable. Full stop.

  12. Number6

    No Signal

    Conveniently, I know quite a few places in my house where mobile phones don't even receive signal. And even if they do, I can't hear the ringtone.

    I don't mind answering the occasional work email out of hours, it makes up for times like now when I'm writing a Reg comment during work hours.

  13. kain preacher

    @Adam Salisbury

    They will find another reason to fire you. California is employment at will .

  14. RW

    @ AC 14:28 GMT

    The SIL should keep a detailed and accurate diary of all out-of-hours, unpaid work she performs. When she eventually leaves that job, she may be able to use that record to claim overtime pay retroactively, with interest.

    Now this recommendation depends on the details of the labour legislation she works under, but it works here in BC. I had a friend who held down a second job with the same drawbacks. He diarized without fussing or tipping off management, and after he left the job filed a claim through the Employment Standards Branch of the provincial government for back pay. Got it, too. The employer may even have had to pay a fine in addition to the back pay.

    In another job, some of the techs were on-call. They were paid quarter time for all the hours they were on-call, with regular remuneration kicking in if they were called and instructed to head out to a customer site. The other side of the coin was that while on-call they had to be available by pager at all times (this was pre-cellphone days), and be within a certain travel time of the customer site(s) they were responsible for.

    A fair system from a non-union company that had some fairly odd policies otherwise.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Posting Anon because well....I work at a company that gave me a work cell and expects this, but little do they know caller ID is a blessing. Not to mention the phone being silenced and or I just cant be bothered to answer it when I'm not at work.

    They pay the phone bill (ATT [sucks yes I know] with all the bells and whistles you can have on the plan [North of $180 a month IIRC]) and I get all the perks :)

    /Beer because well....that's what I'm usually drinking when at home and the work phone rings :)

  16. Argus Tuft

    ahh - the good old days..

    when you wrote a letter and sent it to the typing pool, got the draft back, corrected it, and finally dropped it in the out tray. You actually had time to think if calling the boss at head office a moron was actually such a good idea, and hardly ever sent the letter to the whole office as a 'cc' by mistake....

    when you left the office at 5pm and the only way to get hold of you was for someone to hop in a van and knock on your front door at home (because you NEVER gave anyone your home phone number)

    when you went to 'visit a client' and had a good lunch at the pub....

    then the typing pool got scrapped,

    then the pager's came,

    and eventually the death of something we used to call work-life-balance...

    Roll on the robo-overlords. at least they'll put us out of our misery...

  17. Robert E A Harvey


    My sentiments entirely. A bit of give and take, but not taking the piss.

    I'm on standby this week. I could be called up any time night or day and have to leave home. so my work phone is on at night. I get an extra £180 for this. That's fine by me. Other weeks it is turned on precisely the hours that someone in the office is working.

    They all know my private numbers, and will call them if someone is in trouble. But they don't.

    Some years ago I had an 0870 number for the house, and gave that number to work. So I got 2p per minute every time they called me...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do they want some cheese with that whine?

    Whining about having to work 40 hours a week?

    When I was employed (I'm now self-employed, which is arguably worse) it was a case of "you WILL work 70 hours a week being paid 35 or someone else more willing can have your job".

    Is that legal? No. Does it stink? Yes. It's also a fact of life. Get used to it.

  19. bygjohn

    RE: Do they want some cheese with that whine?

    "When I was employed (I'm now self-employed, which is arguably worse) it was a case of "you WILL work 70 hours a week being paid 35 or someone else more willing can have your job".

    Is that legal? No. Does it stink? Yes. It's also a fact of life. Get used to it."

    My friend, that is what trade unions are for: fighting that kind of illegal bollocks. It doesn't have to be a fact of life unless you want it to be, though I suspect you'll be one of the ones who go all prissy about how terrible unions are for taking collective industrial action to protect and improve terms and conditions and legal rights of workers, who think Thatcher was right etc etc. Yawn.

    Me, I work 35 hours/week, period. Overtime is at agreed rates, though hardly ever required. But then we have unions and collective bargaining and proper t&cs. If there's 70 hours of work to be done in a week, then the employers should be hiring a second person to do the second job, thereby keeping someone off the dole as an added bonus.

    You don't like it, don't take it: fight it. Join a union, recruit others, take collective action as required. They have to recognise unions by law if enough staff join up.

  20. Hugh_Pym

    Lazy Bastards!

    Some moaners here don't mind if they are being paid while commentarding during working hours but won't work a minute after 5 'coz it's their time' .

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