In 2013 the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas in Mohammadi v. Nwabuisi affirmed that employers are required to compensate employees for overtime. On the surface, the case doesn’t appear to have much to do with BYOD. Much of the evidence surfaced by the lawyers hinged on accurate time cards and other records to demonstrate when an employee was working.
Resource Home Health Services, Inc. and Resource Care Corporation provide a range of in-home healthcare services that included patient nursing care. The Defendant, Rose Nwabuisi, owned the two companies. The Plaintiff, Dana Mohammadi, was employed as a vocational nurse in Nwabuisi’s companies and was expected to work weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break. Her hours were tracked via a timecard system. There were multiple parts to the Mohammadi’s claims, but one in particular—overtime—stands out. Mohammadi’s argument was that she believed her employer knew that she worked overtime but didn’t compensate her at time and a half according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Work Outside of Work
According to court documents, Dana Mohammadi was hired to work as a primary home care field supervisor. The scope of her role often required her to work outside of the pre-specified hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to coordinate care services for the company’s 170+ patients. Working during the weekends and evenings became a routine behavior, allowing Mohammadi to catch up on her weekly responsibilities.
In the lawsuit, Mohammadi noted that she was never compensated at time and a half for the overtime work that helped drive profitability.
Nwabuisi also believed that time spent on a work-related tasks performed outside of the office was not reimbursable and that there was no obligation to pay Mohammadi the overtime rate of time and a half.
The Definition of Work
According to a previous ruling, Reeves v. International Telephone and Telegraph, “when an employer knows or has reason to believe that an employee is working for the employer’s benefit, the time spent by the employee is work time, even if the work was not requested.”
When Work is No Longer Bounded by Location
The ability to access work related programs, apps and resources from anywhere, at anytime blurs the 8-to-5 hourly routine for employees and employers. The increased productivity that has fueled company interest in BYOD becomes especially problematic in workplaces with hourly and remote workers, where employers are insulated, and perhaps even unaware of the actual hours they work outside of defined limits. Employees have enjoyed a new sense of flexibility through BYOD devices.
As BYOD adoption grows, employers have a new toolset, Syntonic DataFlex’s suite of mobility services, to help ensure they’re adhering to the Fair Labor Standards Act and recent legislation requiring reimbursement, such as the California Court of Appeals ruling in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service.
The Court’s Decision
The Texas Court weighed in favor of the Plaintiff and made it clear that the employer is responsible for identifying when an employee is working overtime—even outside of the office and that they must pay overtime wages according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.
A Proactive Approach
The Texas Supreme Court in Mohammadi v. Nwabuisi highlighted a major benefit of separating work from personal use to ensure that employees are working as expected—and not working as expected.
To understanding the overtime work habits of her employees, Nwabuisi could have deployed Syntonic DataFlex for her employees. Syntonic DataFlex would have provided Nwabuisi with app level usage insight on how employees are using their BYO devices for business, informing her how and when her employees are working. Nwabuisi could have also used Syntonic DataFlex to enforce policies to ensure that Mohammadi only had access to work applications and assets during specific time periods, helping to prevent overtime work altogether.
Split billing solutions such as Syntonic DataFlex have benefits and safeguards for employees and employers alike. Split billing maintains personal privacy, separating employee work and personal usage on a personal device, and ensuring that employees are appropriately compensated.
Businesses have a responsibility to compensate employees when they work outside of the office as the California Court ruled in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Services. The burden is on the business is to know when employees are working and keep records. For employers, split billing, analytics, forensic records, notifications of personal device use, and policy enforcement help ensure that the company’s BYOD policy is correctly operated and employees are in compliance with company policies.