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Mobile Devices Bring Freedom, Addiction and Employment Pitfalls

October 22, 2006

Dan McCoy, an employment practices partner at Fenwick & West, was recently quoted in a Newsday article, "Curbing BlackBerry Addiction."

The growing popularity of new mobile devices that allow workers to handle e-mail, text messages and calls, is grounded in their value to employees and entrepreneurs, increasing productivity. The devices allow employees to step away from the office and still participate in a function they otherwise would be unable to attend.

But with the newfound mobility, come some serious downsides. The boundary between work and personal time is becoming more blurred. According to the Newsday article, such experiences are leading to reports of related stress and health issues.

"Dan McCoy, a partner with Fenwick & West, a law firm in Silicon Valley that represents employers, says he's more concerned with a different kind of liability – when an employer asks or expects hourly workers to check in on their handheld devices during off hours. With such employees, "that is work time and is subject to compensation at overtime rates," he says. McCoy cautions that even five minutes here and there can build up over time."