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Cell Phone Use Policies for Employers

Small and medium-sized employers require a cell phone use policy just as much as large employers do, though they may not realize it until disaster strikes. Waiting for this inevitability in the current age of technology, ubiquitous cell phone use and use of cell phone records and data in civil litigation is not good business practice, and can lead to unecessary liability for personal injuries or liability for unpaid overtime wages.

Business owners may incorrectly believe that customized company policies such as a Cell Phone Use Policy  are expensive–or are an unnecessary expense–but a Boston Business Attorney at The Jacobs Law can quickly and efficiently draft, customize and prepare a Cell Phone Use Policy for your business at reasonable and highly competitive hourly or flat rates. In addition, The Jacobs Law has a collaborative relationship with HR for Business, an independent human resources service provider. Where necessary, or desired by the client.

The Jacobs Law and HR for Business collaborate to provide customized legal and human resources services to small and medium-sized businesses. See here for more information on The Jacobs Law’s collaborative arrangement with HR for Business.

Cell phone use policies can inform a business’ hourly-wage employees about the dangers of and liability issues of cell phone use, as well as company regulations on employee use of a company vs. personal cell phone, for employment-related business.

The importance of a Cell Phone Use Policy is best highlighted by the following example:

Imagine you own a plumbing company and your employee is running late for work one day. He knows he wont make it to the company warehouse before his co-worker leaves with the van for the day’s job site. So he calls you – the boss – at the office and tells you he’s running late and will just go straight to the job site instead of to the company warehouse first. You agree that he should just head directly to the job site as well. Your employee then decides to text his co-worker to tell him he will meet him at the job site. But while he is looking down at his cell phone and typing, he crosses the center yellow line of a 2 lane highway and hits a car coming in the opposite direction head on. Both cars are totaled, and the other driver is seriously injured as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. Your employee tells police he was on his way to a job site for your plumbing company–that information makes its way into the police report. The injured driver hires an attorney who reviews that police report. Based on that information alone, the lawyer files a lawsuit against your business and obtains the employee’s phone records–including text messages. The phone call to you (the boss) and texts to the co-worker are found in the phone records and reveal that your employee called you minutes before the crash and was likely texting the co-worker at the time of the crash. At a deposition, your employee reveals that he was running late and instead of going to the warehouse you (the employer) directed him to go straight to the job site. The injured driver’s lawyer will use that to argue that the employee was under the direction and control of the employer, and as soon as he was directed to go to the job site he was ‘in the course of his employment’. Your business is now faced with potentially enormous liability for the serious injuries of tue other driver. This scenario could have been avoided through the implementation of a Cell Phone Use Policy.

A Cell Phone Use Policy could have informed the employee  that the use of personal cell phones for business purposes is prohibited and that cell phone use (company or personal) is prohibited while driving. In addition, the employer could have told the employee that he would update the co-worker as to the situation.

Another scenario involving cell phone use involves liability for over-time wages. Case law (Allen v. City of Chicago) in 2010, underscores the liability businesses face for after-hours and over-time use of a company cell phone for business purposes. In that case, a City of Chicago police officer sued on behalf of himself and others (i.e. a Class Action) for work performed using a city-issue cell phone. Any business whose employees perform after-hours / over-time work on a cell phone faces a similar fate as the City of Chicago. A carefully drafted Cell Phone Use Policy can help to mitigate or even eliminate the risk that an employer will be held responsible for unpaid wages arguably earned from after-hours or over-time work on a company or personal cell phone.

A Boston Business Attorney at The Jacobs Law can help your business avoid the dangers and risk of liability associated with cell phone use by drafting, customizing and preparing an appropriate Cell Phone Use Policy for your business. Contact the The Jacobs Law to speak with one of our business attorneys today.

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