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Can You Keep Employees Off The Clock While Their Computer Boots Up?

You have to have a subcription to read the entire thing, but the National Law Journal has a very interesting article written by Tresa Baldas, entitled: Is Booting Up a Computer Work, or a Work Break? More Companies Fending Off Suits on the Issue.

Lawyers are noting a new type of lawsuit, in which employees are suing over time spent booting [up] their computers. ... During the past year, several companies, including AT&T Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp., have been hit with lawsuits in which employees claimed that they were not paid for the 15- to 30-minute task of booting their computers at the start of each day and logging out at the end. Add those minutes up over a week, and hourly employees are losing some serious pay, argues plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Thierman, a Las Vegas solo practitioner who has filed a handful of computer-booting lawsuits in recent years. ...

We aren't sure why it takes 15 to 30 minutes to boot your computer, even if you have Vista, but it seems ridiculous to us that an employer would argue that you have to get to your desk and wait while the equipment warms up or boots up on your own time. The absurd defense position is that employees can boot the computer, then engage in nonwork activities, which must remain off the clock. Richard Rosenblatt, of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, argues:

"They go have a smoke, talk to friends, get coffee — they're not working, and all they've done at that point is press a button to power up their computer, or enter in a key word."

Lawyers face similar situations frequently. We arrive on time for a deposition or a court hearing, only to find that the witness is running late, or the court won't be taking the bench for 20 minutes. Do lawyers like Richard Rosenblatt stop billing during these minutes, since, after all, they can go have a smoke, talk to other lawyers, get coffee or read their newspapers? Or are they on the clock, ready, willing and able to proceed? If the judge tells you to be in court at 8:30 a.m., and you are, but then you sit there for 15 to 30 minutes playing on your iPhone or Blackberry until your case is called, should you be off the clock? We think we know the answer to that question.


Robert Nuddleman

Here, Here! Nicely apropos analogy.


try to read instruction for installation of Windows Vista. You can find Vista at this resource and I think there is the necessary instruction there.

Free Bird

The situation is not simply just booting up your computer (and UnitedHealth Group's system is s-l-o-w), but also staring at a screen for all the password screens to sign-in for the multiple programs used. Call Center folks have many more programs than I had and it still took a good 15 minutes for everything to boot up and be usable. Company is international, use servers and data warehouses from all the various companies they've purchased and many not compatible with their original system. Their IT staff is brilliant but they're not magicians...if the company chooses to create this scenario and handout barely basic equipment to their telecommunters, then they should be responsible for the ensuing consequences.

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