If Employers Allow Telecommuting but Do Not Keep Detailed Records, They Risk Violating the Fair Labor Standards Act

When wage and hour problems arise for remote employees in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, or Jackson, speak with a lawyer for help

When the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938, programmable digital computers were the province of mathematicians and electrical engineers. The thought of these machines one day revolutionizing the workplace would have been considered fanciful at best. Three-quarters of a century later, terms like telecommuting, high-speed data links, and home offices are associated with a growing segment of the workforce. In a classic example of a paradigm shift, large numbers of employees who once “went to the office” now go to offices carved out of extra space in their own dens and bedrooms or set up on dining room tables. Both employers and employees have benefitted from these arrangements, but they have also experienced its downside. Telecommuting has made it all too easy for employers to run afoul of wage and hour laws more suited to workplaces of the 1960s than to those of the twenty-first century.

Much of the downside of telecommuting has to do with sloppy recordkeeping related to basic and overtime hours. If you are a telecommuter and believe that you have not been properly compensated for work your employer knows you performed, you should seek the counsel of an experienced Tennessee wage and hour lawyer. The attorneys at Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt, PLC have a long and successful record of advocacy for employees’ workplace rights. Let The Firm help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.

Why is detailed recordkeeping so contentious in telecommuting?

The FLSA does not require that employees be given meal periods and does not require that they are compensated for them – as long as they are actually off duty. Being “off duty” means that the employee is not required to perform any work at all during the meal period, and is completely at liberty to do other things. If the employee performs work of any kind, active or passive, during the meal period, then the entire period must be counted as a period of work, and they must be compensated for it and the time counted towards overtime eligibility.

In an ordinary office setting, verifying that an employee has worked during a meal period is a straightforward matter. The employee reports it, and a supervisor can usually attest it to. But in a telecommuting situation, there is no supervisory verification. The employee may have worked through the meal period, but may not have. Absent clear proof that the claim is false, the employer has to pay.  To further complicate matters, the kind of technology available to track all of an employee’s computer transactions may seem overly invasive and demoralizing.

There are other FLSA issues. For example, is waiting time compensable if there is a power outage, or a telephone or cable service interruption? And here again, the matter of invasive verification arises.      

If you are a telecommuter and believe your employer is not compensating you according to law, let our Tennessee lawyers help

Our Tennessee wage and hour attorneys’ are licensed to practice in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, and across Tennessee, in state and federal court. If you believe you have been wrongfully denied base and overtime compensation because of careless recordkeeping by your employer, we want to hear from you. Please call 888.354.FIRM to discuss your complaint with an experienced Tennessee wage and hour lawyer, or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.