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Bright v. Houston Northwest Medical Center Survivor, Inc.

934 F.2d 671 (1991)

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Bright v. Houston Northwest Medical Center Survivor, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

934 F.2d 671 (1991)

Facts

Frederick Bright (plaintiff) worked as a biomedical-equipment repair technician for Houston Northwest Medical Center Survivor, Inc. (Northwest) (defendant) beginning in 1981. Bright was paid an hourly wage and worked a 40-hour workweek from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. In early 1982, Bright became a senior repair technician. In that role, Bright was required to wear an electronic pager and be on call to come to the hospital to make emergency repairs. Northwest did not require Bright to be at the hospital or at any other specific place during the on-call time. Rather, the only restrictions on Bright’s on-call time were that (1) he could not be intoxicated to such a degree that he could not work on medical equipment, (2) he had to be reachable, and (3) he had to be within roughly 20 minutes of the hospital. Bright typically spent his on-call time at home, going out to eat, or running normal shopping errands. Bright was not compensated for his general on-call time, but he did receive compensation if he was called to the hospital to perform repairs. Northwest fired Bright in early 1983, and Bright subsequently sued Northwest for overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Bright argued that his general on-call time should have been considered working time for purposes of calculating his 40-hour workweek and compensating him for overtime. The district court found that the on-call time was not working time and granted summary judgment for Northwest. The appellate court reversed, based largely on the fact that Bright’s on-call arrangement had lasted for nearly a year without any breaks. The appellate court then reheard the case en banc.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Garwood, J.)

Dissent (Williams, J.)

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