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Lawsuits Filed over PC Boot Time

Some employees want to be compensated for waiting for their computers to start.
November 20, 2008

I would have posted this earlier, but I had to restart my computer.

From the National Law Journal article titled “Is Booting Up a Computer Work, or a Work Break? More Companies Fending Off Suits on the Issue,” by Tresa Baldas:

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. …

Management-side attorney Richard Rosenblatt, a partner in the Princeton, N.J., office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius who is defending a half-dozen employers in computer-booting lawsuits … believes that, in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work. Having spent time in call centers observing work behaviors, he said most employees boot the computer, then engage in nonwork activities. “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,” Rosenblatt said.

There are technical solutions to the long boot times, of course. A recent New York Times article notes that PC manufacturers are rolling out machines that give access to e-mail and Web browsers in less than 30 seconds while the rest of the machine wakes up. And we’ve written about a company, called Device VM, that released fast-booting software called Splashtop that helps get critical PC applications up and running in seconds.

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