Every manager and team handled the transition to remote work a little differently. Some adapted easily, their workflow almost unchanged except without hellos over the morning coffee pot. A few even thrived, finding a better workflow from home than they did in the office. Many managers, however, floundered in the face of leading their teams remotely during the crisis. Professionals were equally lost at sea, sent home with whatever random collection of computers and equipment they might already have. Some managers disappeared, some went mad with micro-managing power. However, the most damaging unforeseen trend of remote work is the expectation of always being on-call for work. Without appropriate pay.

“I know you’re there” “It’s not like you have anything else to do” “Hey, could you just do this really quick for me?”

These are the messages of a pushy manager who wants work outside of your working hours. If you are non-exempt and paid by the hour, the hours you are clocked in for matter. The time you spend on work tasks matters. And if you’re working off-hours just because you are “available” – and if there would be consequences for not answering – you may really be “on-call” and must be paid for your time under employer control. Teams let a lot of illegal ad-hoc measures fly during the initial crisis, but it’s time to build a legal and properly compensated “new normal” or we will see a slide backward in employers taking advantage in private and obscured digital workspaces.


The Always-On-Call Attitude of Remote Work (is Illegal)

For many, remote work introduced the ability to work during your best hours, not limited to office hours. And with a manager who assigns the correct amount of work and/or allows flexible hour clocking, this works out great. However, the dark inversion of remote schedule flexibility is the always-on-call attitude some (surprisingly many) managers take when their team goes remote.

Here in the state of California, on-call / standby time must be paid the same wage rate, including overtime, for every hour that is not your own.

Blurring the Lines Between Work and Personal Time

Many managers have boundary issues, barely held in check by the work-home separation of your typical workplace. When you are working remotely from home – and are mandated by lockdown to be home – suddenly all of your time becomes their time. You were “available”, weren’t you? You were home, and so was your work computer, so you must be available for work. Answer a question. Do this task “just really quick” for them. Oh, and stick around to finish that project, since you’ve got so much free time now! 

In truth, you know you do (and did) not have free time. Kids at home, partners also working from home, sick relatives, and the economic crash made “working from home’ nothing like the half-vacation imagined by pushy time-claiming managers.


Where is the Legal Line Between Pushy and On-Call?

So you are working remotely and your manager sends you messages and requests all the time. Where is the line between being pushy and illegally placing you on-call without pay?

1. Expectation of Response

First, do you absolutely need to respond to your manager’s emails, messages, and texts right away? Are they asking for answers “right now”, calling your phone, or demanding immediate Zoom meetings? If so, you are probably on-call.

However, some managers send messages all day, but are fine if you answer them all at once when your next shift starts. Determine if you are able to set some response-time boundaries, even if messages come in at all hours.

2. Discipline for Non-Response

Next, determine if there are consequences or just expectations. Not all managers know how to handle remote work, and some are insomniac workaholics who are overworking themselves without a commute. Are they just being pushy, or are there (threatened or real) punishments for not responding during your off-hours?

If you can be disciplined for not responding during off-hours, you are legally on-call and must be paid for the time that isn’t your own.

3. Your Ability to Make Plans

Lastly, can you make plans with your off-hours and expect to keep them? We often mention the Birthday Party example as an easy rule of thumb. Can you promise to be at someone’s birthday party and attend for several hours without expecting to be called away for mandatory work? If not, you are likely on-call and eligible for overtime and backpay from unpaid on-call hours.


Are You Working Remotely On-Call Without Pay?

If your manager is forcing you to report in, answer questions, or perform tasks during your off-hours of remote work, you are officially working on-call without pay. This is an illegal practice, though many new-to-remote managers and employers may not realize what they are doing.  Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we can help you defend your employee rights in all workplace situations, including remote work teams. Contact us to discuss your unpaid on-call hours and what can be done to correct your employer and get back that value for your time.


Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986