Wait, Isn’t That A Crime?
Yesterday as I was working on my impersonation of a slug, I caught a news story on my local ABC station, Chicago police officer’s lawsuit calls for overtime pay for off-duty Blackberry usage. Jeffrey Allen, a sergeant for the Chicago police department, has filed a lawsuit against the city. He contends that he spends countless personal hours addressing work issues during his time off and he believes, that as an hourly employee, he deserves to collect overtime pay for the extended workday. In essence he’s accusing his employer of wage theft.
My first reaction was, give me a break…all together now: “At least you’re lucky enough to have a job that pays a decent salary with benefits. Quit your bitching.” Seconds later, though I gave it more thought. Being married to someone who’s been in the IT field since the late 80s, our lives revolved around pager duty from day one. Late night phone calls barely elicited a response from me because I was so accustomed to not only the ringer at 3 am, but also to the conversation that would follow. Then mobile phones became standard issue. This gave us slightly more freedom because we could finally leave the house as a family, during official on-call duty days and not worry about finding a payphone.
I can’t even estimate how many times we were at a restaurant and my husband had to excuse himself from the table to take a work call. Often I was left alone or sitting at the table with our two young children, as his food got cold. Weddings, funerals, vacations, no time was sacred or truly our own.
In some ways, technology and life have changed for the better. It’s easier to resolve issues with a quick email or phone call. It’s eliminated the late night drives into the office to take care of emergencies. Even better, some companies are beginning to recognize the need for providing employees with a fair work & life balance, but not all employers have stepped up. Some still expect their employees to make personal sacrifices and in addition, be damn grateful they have a job. If you reach a middle management salaried position, you may find yourself essentially kissing good-bye much of your personal time.
Those who find themselves facing such dilemmas often dare not complain to family and friends, unless they want to hear, “At least you have a job. Quit your bitching.”
I hope for the sake of all US workers who are expected to be available at all times, that Sergeant Allen’s suit is successful. Perhaps it will be the catalyst for a change that’s been long overdue for families everywhere.
- Suit: Answering calls, scanning emails deserves OT (sfgate.com)
- Suit seeks pay for email, phone work while off (cbsnews.com)
- SME workers put in the overtime (xlntelecom.co.uk)