AELE LAW LIBRARY OF CASE SUMMARIES:
Employment & Labor Law for Public Safety Agencies


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F.L.S.A. - Standby Time
(includes pager cases)

     Monthly Law Journal Article: On-Call Duty, 2008 (11) AELE Mo. L. J. 201.

     Police officers claimed that a town's on-call policy for their jobs was so onerous before 2009 that they had been unable to engage in personal activities between shifts and should, therefore, have been paid for all time spent on call, rather than just for calls outs. The Montana Supreme Court upheld a trial court jury verdict for the town, based on the plaintiffs' failure to demonstrate that the jury's verdict was inherently impossible to believe or that the verdict was completely unsupported by the evidence. Stubblefield v. Town of W. Yellowstone Court, #12-0207, 2013 MT 78, 2013 Mont. Lexis 96
     Class action suit raises overtime claims for thousands of Chicago Police sergeants who were issued mobile PDAs such as BlackBerry® devices. The complaint alleges that the plaintiff “received numerous phone calls, e-mails and work orders while off the clock and was not compensated for the time spent receiving and responding to these communications” during the preceding two-year period. Complaint, Allen v. City of Chicago, #1:10-cv-03183 (N.D. Ill.).
     Appellate court overturns a decision holding that Maryland state juvenile transportation officers were not entitled to compensation under the FLSA and for time spent while on a restrictive on-call duty. "All the employee witnesses testified that they could not leave the house without taking the risk that, if paged, they would not be able to respond within the two-hour response time ..." Hess v. Dept. of Juvenile Services, #2025, 2008 Md. App. Lexis 166.
    Arbitrator denies an overtime claim to an officer who was ordered to wear a pager while waiting to be called to court. City of Washington and FOP, FMCS #01/13235, 116 LA (BNA) 686 (Szuter, 2001).  [2002 FP Apr]
      OPM issues a final rule on federal firefighter basic and overtime pay. The new method eliminates standby duty pay and authorizes overtime for both FLSA exempt and nonexempt firefighters. OPM Firefighter Pay, 67 Fed. Reg. 15463 (4/2/02).
     Off-duty sheriff’s deputies who must wear pager every 10th week were not entitled to overtime compensation. Ingram v. Co. of Bucks, 1997 U.S. Dist. Lexis 5317, 3 WH Cases2d (BNA) 1611 (E.D.Pa.). [1997 FP 119-20]
     Federal appeals court strikes down overtime suit based on employee's claim he had to stay within the reception range of his pager. Sarmiento v. City of Denver, 1996 U.S.App. Lexis 7562, 82 F.3d 426 (Unpub. 10th. Cir.). [1997 FP 56]
     Article: “The impact of electronic paging and on-call policies on overtime pay under the FLSA,” 11 (2) The Labor Lawyer (ABA) 231-246 (Summer 1995).
     On-call time was not compensable where the employee is interrupted only several times a week and could travel in a 30-mile radius. Paniagua v. City of Galveston, 995 F.2d 1310, 1993 U.S. App. Lexis 18581 (5th Cir. 1993). {N/R}
     Restrictive standby time was compensable in Kansas; double damages awarded to firefighters. Renfro v. City of Emporia, 948 F.2d 1529 (10th Cir.). [1993 FP 8-9]
     Whether standby periods are compensable depends on whether the employee can "effectively use the time" while under subpoena, and waiting to see if and when he will be called to testify in court. If officers are “engaged to wait” the time is compensable; if they are “waiting to be engaged” it is not compensable. Thompson v. City of Canton, #5:90CV1558 (N.D.Ohio 1992). {N/R}
     Standby time was not overtime, although firefighters were required to wear beepers, where callbacks averaged 3 per month per firefighter. Clay v. City of Winona, 753 F.Supp. 624 (N.D. Miss. 1990). {N/R} 
     Federal jury awards members of bomb squad 12 hours overtime pay for each 24-hour period of on-call status. Dornbos v. O'Grady, 1990 WL 179711 (N.D. Ill. 1990).
     Restrictive standby time was compensable in Kansas; double damages awarded to firefighters. Renfro v. City of Emporia, 948 F.2d 1529 (10th Cir. 1991).
     Taking phone calls at home is work time, compensable at overtime rates. Staying at home in case the phone rings is "standby" time, and although compensable, is not "work time" at overtime rates. Hickey v. State of Kansas Corp. Cmsn., 765 P.2d 1108 (Kan. 1988).
    Maine Supreme Court holds that EMT stand-by time was not compensable overtime, despite minimal restrictions. Crook v. Russell, 532 A.2d 1351 (Me. 1987).
     Appeals court holds that on-call periods are not working time; jury award for overtime reversed. Goff v. City of Airway Heights, 725 P.2d 997 (Wash. App. 1986).
     Highway patrolmen lose suit over pay claim for standby duty and court appearances; collective bargaining is proper remedy. Sullivan v. State Board of Control, 225 Cal.Rptr. 454, 176 Cal. App. 3d 1059.
     Kansas firefighters win pay for "stand-by time" claims; on-call status was unduly restrictive. Renfro v. City of Emporia, 729 F.Supp. 747 (D. Kan. 1990).
     Highway patrolmen lose suit over pay claim for standby duty and court appearances; collective bargaining is proper remedy. Sullivan v. State Bd. of Control, 225 Cal.Rptr. 454, 176 Cal.App.3d 1059.
     Fire Dept. photographer who was on call 24-hours a day, was not entitled to be paid for standby time. Back pay award of $586,876 reversed by appeals court. City of Dallas v. Spainhouer, 758 S.W.2d 611 (Tex. App. 1988).
     Washington Supreme Court sets out when “on call” periods constitute work time, entitling employees to overtime pay; degree of restrictions on personal life is usually controlling. Deputy Sheriff's Assn. v. Chelan Co., 109 Wash.2d 282, 745 P.2d 1 (1987).
     Maine Supreme Court holds the EMT stand-by time was not compensable overtime, despite minimal restrictions. Crook v. Russell, 532 A.2d 1351 (Me. 1987).
     Non-resident employees forced to remain in town on standby duty entitled to overtime pay; payment to residents excused. Kearny PBA Local 21 v. Town of Kearny, 388 A.2d 265, 159 N.J. Super. 402 (A.D. 1978).
     Department not required to pay overtime for standby duty. Spellman v. Fiscal Court of Jefferson County, 574 S.W.2d 342 (Ky. App. 1978).
     Wisconsin officers lose back pay awarded for "yellow alert" duty; stand-by time at stationhouse and home distinguished. Theune v. City of Sheboygan, 226 N.W.2d 396 (Wis. 1975).
     Standby Time discussed. Hogan v. Kansas City, 516 S.W.2d 805.


     Article: "The impact of electronic paging and on-call policies on overtime pay under the FLSA," 11 (2) The Labor Lawyer (ABA) 231-246 (Summer, 1995).

     Article : E. Randels, Esq., “The Fair Labor Standards Act: An Administrative Nightmare.” 59 (5) Police Chief (IACP) 28-32 (May 1992). Discusses in-shift meal periods, and standby on-call time.

    See also: Overtime Pay Claims; Pay Disputes.

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