OT for work on phones? Judge to decide in Chicago case - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

OT for work on phones? Judge to decide in Chicago case

CHICAGO (KFVS/AP) - A federal judge is deciding whether Chicago police officers are entitled to overtime pay for fielding work-related calls and emails on their smartphones when off the clock.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier heard closings Monday in a bench trial stemming from a lawsuit brought against the city by members of an organized-crime bureau.

The case could help draw clearer lines nationwide between when a worker is on or off company time in the age of the smartphone.

A city lawyer, Jennifer Naber, argued that clear policies are already in place instructing officers to file for overtime for work done on smartphones after hours.

But plaintiffs' attorney Paul Geiger said officers are often browbeaten into not filing for the OT.

Schenkier's expected to render a decision within weeks.

In Murphysboro, Illinois, the city’s police chief says whether you’re on duty or off, being a cop is not a 9-5 job.

“You are a police officer here 24 hours a day,” Murphysboro Police Chief Brian Hollo said. “And if you get an email, or a phone call, a single one or two, and you want to be compensated for that, I think that’s a joke.”

Chief Hollo said when it comes to the position of an officer there are certain times when getting paid while off duty comes into play.

“If you are answering emails back and forth or you’re doing a case or you’re talking on the phone for hours, then yes, you should be compensated for that,” Chief Hollo said. “But to be notified of an incident or to be asked a question about a case, I don’t think you should be compensated for that at all. That’s just part of the job.”

Audra McBride, a southern Illinois resident, said responding to emails or phone calls after work hours is slowly starting to become the norm.

“That’s the way things are now,” McBride said. “And if you have a job and they ask it of you then it should all be discussed and you should all be on the same page about it. But I don’t think everything is time sensitive. I think some things should be and other things of course, they can wait. There are a lot of things that can wait that we don’t make wait.”

So how much is too much when it comes to responding to work emails after you clock out?

Chief Hollo said when it comes to Murphysboro police department, it’s a case by case basis.

“If we use them for a long time, I want to compensate them because it’s important to compensate somebody for their work,” Chief Hollo said. “It’s just the individual phone calls, I don’t think it’s necessary, but if it’s going to be a long term or long drawn out process, absolutely.”

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Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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