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Maryland Judge Rules On-Call Time Non-Compensable Due To Freedom for Personal Activities

The issue of whether time spent “on-call” is compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act is a factual analysis, and thus the source of FLSA litigation.  A recent decision finding such time to be non-compensable highlights a preeminent principle in the analysis – in order for on-call time to be non-compensable, an employee must be free to engage in at least a reasonable range of personal pursuits.  Skrzecz v. Gibson Island Corp., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95047 (D. Md. 2014).

In Skrzecz, plaintiff was employed on Gibson Island in Maryland as a police officer and EMT.  Her job required her to be on-call during certain hours in addition to her scheduled shift, time for which she alleged she was owed additional compensation.  The case record established that during the on-call time plaintiff could “stay in her home or [was] free to travel on the Island… [and] also that she could eat[], sleep[], watch[] television and spend[] time with her son.”  Judge Richard D. Bennett, drawing on the Fourth Circuit’s prior opinion addressing on call issues in Kelly v. Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home, Inc., 847 F.2d 147 (4th Cir. 1988), a case concerning a live-in funeral parlor employee, determined that plaintiff “was not so restricted that she [could not] use her on-call time for personal activities.”  Thus, the time was not compensable.

Plaintiff Skrzecz’s specific freedoms highlight key aspects of any analysis of on-call time.  In the instant case, these FLSA principles were also deemed applicable to the determination of whether such time was compensable under Maryland state wage law.  Of course, state law must always be analyzed separately. Further, any time spent working after being called to active duty while “on-call” is of course compensable.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume IV, Number 196

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About this Author

Noel Tripp Principal Employment lawyer at Jackson Lewis Law Firm
Principal

Noel P. Tripp is a Principal in the Long Island, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Since joining Jackson Lewis as a summer associate in May 2005, he has practiced exclusively in employment law.

Mr. Tripp has been involved in matters pending before federal and state courts and administrative agencies covering the gamut of employment-related matters from discrimination and workplace harassment to wage/hour disputes and affirmative-action compliance. His principal focus is the defense of class and collective action...

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