A friend of a friend of mine that happens to be a lawyer was telling me about a case that she just settled where her client, an hourly employee, received a settlement from his former employer after being terminated improperly for failing to respond to critical emails sent to his BlackBerry in a timely fashion.

The employee that worked in the computer industry as a technical support analyst was issued a BlackBerry so that he could receive email and trouble tickets while walking from location to location throughout their employer’s campus. After being notified that he not claim overtime for answering and responding to email while not on the clock or make personal calls from the device, the employee decided to leave his BlackBerry in his desk each night after clocking out.

The employee was written up for falling under his SLA for response times to trouble tickets but argued that this was not possible because the tickets in question were sent to him outside of regular working hours on nights when he was not the on-call support analyst and should have been routed to the on call support analyst. His supervisor told him that even though this was true, he had a BlackBerry and could have easily responded to the tickets via email.

The employee told his supervisor that when he was not on call, since he could not claim overtime for checking tickets outside of working hours or even use the BlackBerry for personal calls that he didn’t take his BlackBerry home with him at night as there was no reason to.

Later that day, the employee was called into his supervisors office where he was terminated for insubordination. He was told that not keeping his BlackBerry with him was unacceptable.

To make a long story short, the employee got a lawyer, sued his former employer, and got a fairly large settlement.