July 22, 2019

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Do You Have a Legal Right to Disconnect from Work?

Distracted Parent

Do you receive texts or emails from your employer at all hours? If so, do you feel that you must respond, or have you faced disciplinary action or threats of being penalized or fired if you don’t?

A right to disconnect law went into effect in France on January 1, 2017 and several other countries have enacted or introduced similar laws.

New York City has introduced such a bill, and it is highly controversial. But even though most American workers are not protected by any specific “right to disconnect” law, if you believe that your employer is abusing their ability to reach out to you at any time, it may be worth your while to talk to a labor and employment attorney.

Getting Paid for Your Time

If you are paid hourly, you should also be paid for work performed outside of work hours. Consider yourself on the clock when you are checking and responding to work-related emails and texts. If you are eligible for overtime, and those activities put you into overtime, you should be receiving overtime pay.

Is it Discrimination or Harassment?

If you are not paid for your time or are exempt from overtime wages, and possibly even if you are, and your employer is continually intruding into your off time, you may have recourse on the basis of discrimination. While your right to refuse to respond to off-hour communications may not specifically be protected, if you are being singled out or treated differently from other employees it may be considered discrimination or harassment. An experienced labor and employment attorney can determine if your employer’s behavior is unlawful and help you decide how to proceed.

If you believe that your employer is going too far with off-hours communications, please talk to an experienced labor and employment attorney right away to learn more about your legal rights.

About Sandra Dalton

With a background as a paralegal, focusing on criminal defense and civil rights, Sandra Dalton launched her freelance writing career in 2000 with a weekly column on Freedom for Suite 101 and pro bono projects for individuals and organizations supporting causes close to her heart. One of her first projects was for the Police Compliant Center writing about police misconduct. Sandra’s legal writing quickly expanded to include personal injury, animal welfare, criminal defense, disability discrimination, family law and much more.

Sandra’s other writing around the web includes a broad range of topics such as food, pet health, feral cats, music and film. Sandra is also a fine art photographer, helps with animal rescue and TNR in her community, and volunteers as a DJ at her local radio station.