Hello again and thank you for your reply. As you may or may not know, the issue of whether on-call time is considered compensable time as hours worked is a very fact specific issue and can only be decided by the DOL and the courts. This is, without a doubt, one of the most technical and confusing (for everyone) area of the law. There may be cases that seem very similar where the DOL may say one should have been compensated for their on-call time at minimum wage and where the other case they say no compensation is required at all. The DOL and the courts will look at geography, response time, call frequency, and any constraints placed on the employee's activities.
As an example of how even the courts don't always agree in this area where an employee required to remain sober, and arrive at the hospital within approximately 20 minutes after being called and received calls when on-call an average of 4 to 5 times per week, one appeals court ruled that their time was not compensable at all. On the other hand, another appeals circuit found that the same essential facts would make the time compensable.
My guess is that most definitely on days where your wife is called 3 times in an on-call period, the DOL and the courts would hold that she must be paid minimum wage for all of her hours on that shift. However, for the others, it is doubtful unless she is called in multiple times that they will find that time to be compensable at all.
As you mentioned, she has two options. One is to file a wage
claim with the state for any days that she believes she should have received minimum wage for her on-call period. She might though consider first sitting down with a local employment law
attorney who is intimately familiar with the FLSA
to discuss this on-call time in detail, so that they can advise her on her best option.
If you would like to read some guidance, both by the DOL and firm who has done a pretty good job summarizing the issues, you can read that information at:
Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.