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Daily Business Report — Aug. 18, 2011

El Cajon Public Safety Center Construction Completed

El Cajon Public Safety Center

Gafcon Inc. reports the completion of El Cajon’s new $40 million Public Safety Center on a 5.7-acre site at 100 Civic Center Way adjacent to El Cajon City Hall. The new 332,150-square-foot center is a five-story structure with 212,750 square feet of parking integrated on three levels. The state-of-the-art facility includes administrative and operational space for all police divisions. It also features a modern communication and dispatch center, an emergency operations center, community meeting room, indoor firing range, crime laboratory, property processing and evidence storage area, short-term custody facility and a central data center. The building will house all police functions in one location. It meets LEED Gold standards with the installation of energy-efficient IT and AV equipment to reduce energy consumption. It includes an energy-efficient mechanical system, natural ventilation, solar power an efficient lighting system and other renewable energy features. Proposition O, a half-cent sales tax increase approved by El Cajon residents in November 2004 funded the project. Construction commenced in June 2009. Gafcon was the construction manager. The project team included KMA Architecture & Engineering in partnership with McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie, Inc.; Ledcor Construction Inc., the general contractor; Burkett & Wong Engineers; Wimmer, Yamada and Caughey, landscape architect; IT Pathworx, audio visual security and telecom consultant; DTR Consulting Services, specification consultant; and Testmarx, building commissioning agent. Major subcontractors included Alpha Mechanical Heating & Air Inc., Gotte Electric, and Peltzer Plumbing.

Sen. McCain to Receive Midway American Patriot Award

The USS Midway Museum will bestow its annual Midway American Patriot Award to Sen. John McCain and, posthumously, to Vice Adm. James Stockdale at its annual flight deck gala on Sept. 1 beginning at 6 p.m. Past recipients have included Lee Iacocca, World War II Medal of Honor recipients, and America’s pioneering astronauts.  This year, Larry King will serve as emcee of the black-tie event.  Former Gov. Pete Wilson is honorary co-chair of the event. Proceeds benefit Midway’s education program that hosts 40,000 K-8th grade students annually who study math, science, social studies, history and citizenship aboard the carrier in state-of-the-art classrooms with flight deck activities. Tickets at $400 per person are available. For more information, visit midwaygala.org.

Wheatley Named CEO of Envision Solar International

Desmond Wheatley has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Envision Solar International Inc., succeeding company founder Bob Noble, who has assumed the role of executive chairman. Chris Caulson has been appointed chief financial officer. Noble invented the Solar Tree structure that has become iconic in the solar shaded parking industry. He intends to stay closely involved in the firm’s operations.


Workplace Issues

Smart Phones’ Big Wage and Hour Headache  

By David Monks

A smart phone is now as much a piece of your office life as a desk, laptop or employee handbook. Anyone can use their BlackBerry or iPhone to stay current on news and events, update social media status and check their email from any location with a signal.

David Monks

For more and more people, that email checking usually includes a work e-mail box. The potential dilemma: there are legal issues to consider when an employee uses technology to stay connected outside of work hours, even if the smart phone is not issued by the employer.

Recently, a police officer sued the City of Chicago on behalf of himself and others, seeking pay for time spent dealing with work-related phone calls, voice mails, e-mails, text messages and work orders via BlackBerry devices and similar “personal digital assistants.” The officer contends that these activities entitle the group to an award of overtime compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The idea of checking on work activities outside of work hours is neither a new phenomenon nor surprising. However, the extreme proliferation of electronic communication devices into every part of our lives creates a new wrinkle and key issues that employers must address when it comes to smart phone use outside the workplace: Non-exempt vs. exempt status – Do you know how your employees are classified?

Recognizing how the law (created 70 years ago) doesn’t always relate to current real-life situations.

How do you count/monitor the amount of time spent using personal electronic communication devices to stay current on work situations?

This issue won’t be going away any time soon. Although there have been countless wage and hour claims in California on a variety of topics, there is no current legal definition about compensating for time spent on work projects after hours strictly using electronic communication.  The fact is, even without a statute in place, employers need to begin looking at policies regulating and defining electronic communication use outside of work hours and what work constitutes “overtime.”

One initial solution is to put in place procedures and systems that allow (and even require) non-exempt employees to keep accurate records of the time spent working using a mobile device. A firm may wish to create a special time sheet for this or a new online tracking code if the company uses a software-based or web-driven time management tool. Employees should be trained to make a habit of submitting this record so that the activities can be counted along with their other work in order to compute wages.

In just the last month, the Department of Labor has gotten into the act and created an iPhone app that allows employees to keep their own time records.  This is a powerful example of the ways technology can open the door for employees to be deceitful and manipulative in tracking time. It also seems clear that the DOL is doing this to help bolster wage-hour cases against employers.

Apps like this can be truly dangerous. There is a huge risk for mistakes and most employees have no expertise in what is considered to be work time under the FLSA (or applicable state law). This can lead to employees mis-reporting time that otherwise would not count as compensable hours worked.

Moving forward, technology will continue to invade all parts of employee lives and further blur the line between work and personal time. Employers need to stay up-to-date on current information about potential impact of timesheet app entries in wage disputes; it is recommended all employers continue to monitor Department of Labor updates and any potential changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

David Monks is a partner in the San Diego office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He counsels employers on a wide variety of matters, including employee discipline and termination, wage-and-hour issues, disability accommodation protocols, family and medical leave issues, investigations of harassment and other misconduct, and independent contractor issues. (858) 597-9600. dmonks@laborlawyers.com.


Join Us For the 40 Under 40 Awards Luncheon

Join SD Metro and 40 of the region’s top professionals at the 2011 40 Under 40 Awards luncheon on Sept. 13 at the San Diego Convention Center. Registration is at 11:30 a.m. and the luncheon is at noon. Single tickets are available for $75 and reservations can be made for tables of 10. For more information, e-mail Bob Page (bobpage@sandiegometro.com) or Rebeca Page (rebecapage@sandiegometro.com).


The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of SD METRO, the North Park News, Kensington News and the West Coast Craftsman. Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865.


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Voice Your Opinion


We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: info@probolskyresearch.com