Lunch and other breaks

12 examples of violations of federal wage and hour law (FLSA) for breaks and lunches

Florida and Federal lunch break  laws force employers to pay for all compensable time worked by non-exempt employees including applicable overtime. The determination of what is “compensable” time under lunch labor laws as well other issues in an individual situation is a complex one and is best left to a lawyer with experience in wage and hour laws and litigation.

The following are 12 examples of typical violations of compensable time for non-exempt employees  including violations for rest and meal breaks laws, travel times and on-call times:

1.) Work Break Law:

a) Lunch breaks for employees. Lunch labor laws (typically 30 minutes or more) do allow the employer not to compensate the employee as work time under certain circumstances. Thus, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. The employee is not relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating. An experienced labor lawyer will analyze the individual circumstances to determine when a lunch break is actually compensable.

b) Rest breaks for employees. Rest breaks of short duration, usually 20 minutes or less, are common in industry (and promote the efficiency of the employee) and are customarily paid for as working time. These short periods must be counted as hours worked. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to the employee that the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules, and any extension of the break will be punished.

2.) Compensable Time – FLSA law that is Applied to the Workweek to Calculate the Actual Number of Hours Worked:

Employees “Suffered or Permitted” to work: Work not requested but suffered or permitted to be performed is work time that must be paid for by the employer. For example, an employee may voluntarily continue to work at the end of the shift to finish an assigned task or to correct errors. The reason why the employee has continued to work is immaterial. The additional hours are work time and are compensable.

3.) Waiting time for employees: Whether waiting time is hours worked under the Act depends upon the particular circumstances. Generally, the facts may show that the employee was engaged to wait (which is work time) or the facts may show that the employee was waiting to be engaged (which is not work time). For example, a secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm is working during such periods of inactivity. These employees have been “engaged to wait.”

4.) On-Call time for employees: An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises is working while “on call.” An employee who is required to remain on call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on call. Additional constraints on the employee’s freedom could require this time to be compensated.

5.) Sleeping Time and Certain Other Activities: An employee who is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with the employer to exclude from hours worked bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep. No reduction is permitted unless at least 5 hours of sleep is taken.

6.) Lectures, Meetings and Training Programs: Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met, namely: it is outside normal hours, it is voluntary, not job related, and no other work is concurrently performed.

 7.) Travel time for employees: The principles which apply in determining whether time spent in travel is compensable time depends upon the kind of travel involved and the job duties of the employee. This is a complex area and a Florida wage lawyer needs to carefully analyze the facts in each particular situation.

 8.)Home to work travel time for employees: An employee who travels from home before the regular workday and returns to his/her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home to work travel, which is not work time.

 9.) Home to Work on a Special One Day Assignment in Another City: An employee who regularly works at a fixed location in one city is given a special one day assignment in another city and returns home the same day. The time spent in traveling to and returning from the other city is work time, except that the employer may deduct/not count that time the employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.

10.)  Travel That is All in a Day’s Work: Time spent by an employee in travel as part of their principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.

 11.) Travel Away from Home Community: Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is travel away from home. Travel away from home is clearly work time when it cuts across the employee’s workday. The time is not only hours worked on regular working days during normal working hours but also during corresponding hours on nonworking days. As an enforcement policy the Division will not consider as work time that time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile.

12.) What does “Employ” Mean under the FLSA?

By statutory definition the term “employ” includes “to suffer or permit to work.” The workweek ordinarily includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place. “Workday“, in general, means the period between the time on any particular day when such employee commences his/her “principal activity” and the time on that day at which he/she ceases such principal activity or activities. The workday may therefore be longer than the employee’s scheduled time.

Call attorney Rose H. Robbins at (954) 946-8130 for a FREE  telephone consultation about your claim for minimum wage or unpaid overtime wage violations.

 

 

 

 

Or you can complete the simple form below for confidential submission to our office.  Please be advised that by merely submitting this form, no Attorney-Client relationship is formed with this law firm.   You must provide your name,  home or cell phone number, your email address and your zip code in the form.  We serve the following counties: Broward, Highlands, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie.

 

Break times of 5 to 20 minutes are compensable under FLSA if offered by the employer

The FLSA does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5-to-20 minutes), the law considers the breaks compensable work hours that must be included in the sum of hours for the work week and considered in determining overtime.

The FLSA requires that covered, nonexempt employees be paid at least the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for all hours worked, plus time and one-half their regular rates, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers also must maintain accurate time and payroll records. Employers who violate the law are liable to employees for their back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages.

Progressive Business Publications, a Malvern, Pennsylvania based telemarketing company owes at least $1.75M in back wages and damages for docking employee pay for compensable break time. For telemarketing workers of a Malvern publishing company, deciding when to take water, bathroom and rest breaks was a matter of dollars and cents. The workers had their pay docked for virtually all time not spent making sales calls, sometimes bringing their wages below the federal minimum wage.

On December 16, 2015, a federal judge recently found the defendants in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and determined that American Future Systems, doing business as Progressive Business Publications, and its owner, Edward Satell, are liable for pay back wages resulting from these unpaid breaks, plus an equal amount in liquidated damages.

Although the exact amounts have not yet been determined, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that for violations occurring through June 2013, Progressive and Satell are liable for at least $1.75 million in back wages and liquidated damages to more than 6,000 employees who worked in 14 call centers throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio. Progressive’s refusal to come into compliance for more than two years during the course of the litigation will increase significantly the amount of back wages and damages due its employees as a result of its  pay policy.

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, issued the decision which found that telemarketers had to clock in and out for every break, even those as short as two to three minutes. The timekeeping system then deducted the break time from their total hours worked each week. Thus the employer failed to comply with the FLSA. The court found the company also violated FLSA recordkeeping requirements.

Founded in 1959, American Future Systems is the parent company of Progressive Business Publications, a direct marketing company. Progressive Business Publications publishes subscription-driven, business-to-business newsletters and other publications on business management, sales and marketing, human resources and employment law. One would think that they should know better!

timeclockIf you feel that you have not been compensated for the hours you have worked you may call the law office for a FREE strictly confidential consultation about your claim for minimum wage or unpaid overtime wage violations at: (954) 948-8130. Or you can complete the simple form below for submission to us.  Please be advised that by merely submitting this form, no Attorney-Client relationship is formed with the law firm.   You must provide your name,  home or cell phone number, your email address and your zip code in the form.  We look forward to discussing your possible minimum wage and/or overtime pay violations claim. We are passionate about defending and enforcing workers’ rights for unpaid wages.

 

What are Counted as Hours Worked (Compensable Time) Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) ?

Under federal wage and hour breaks laws contained in the FLSA, compensable time ordinarily includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty or at a prescribed work  place.  Thus, you may be entitled to be paid for time in addition to your scheduled shift hours, tour of duty, or production line time.  To determine if you are owed overtime pay we need to calculate your actual compensable time which may be different than what is appearing on your timecards or paychecks. Although the FLSA defines how to calculate the amount of compensable time, it may be complicated as to how it applies in a particular workplace situation. The Law Office of Rose H. Robbins, J.D. offers a free phone consultation to discuss the application of compensable time to your individual situation. (954) 946-8130. Or, you can use the direct email contact form at the bottom of this page to obtain a confidential consultation with attorney.

When do Typical Problems Arise?

timeclockProblems arise when employers fail to recognize and count certain hours such as lunches and breaks worked as compensable hours. For example, an employee who remains at his/her desk while eating lunch and regularly answers the telephone and refers callers is working. This time must be counted and paid as compensable hours worked because the employee has not been completely relieved from duty.

The following  12 examples are examples of typical miscalculations of compensable time under the FLSA:

1.) Rest and Meal Breaks:

a) Rest breaks of short duration, usually 20 minutes or less, are common in industry (and promote the efficiency of the employee) and are customarily paid for as working time. These short periods must be counted as hours worked. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to the employee that the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer’s rules, and any extension of the break will be punished.

b) Meal breaks. Under federal lunch break law (typically 30 minutes or more) employer does not need to compensate it as work time under certain circumstances. Thus, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. The employee is not relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating.

2.) Principles that are Applied to the Workday and Workweek to Calculate the Actual Number of Hours Worked?

Employees “Suffered or Permitted” to work: Work not requested but suffered or permitted to be performed is work time that must be paid for by the employer. For example, an employee may voluntarily continue to work at the end of the shift to finish an assigned task or to correct errors. The reason why the employee has continued to work is immaterial. The additional hours are work time and are compensable.

3.) Waiting Time: Whether waiting time is hours worked under the Act depends upon the particular circumstances. Generally, the facts may show that the employee was engaged to wait (which is work time) or the facts may show that the employee was waiting to be engaged (which is not work time). For example, a secretary who reads a book while waiting for dictation or a fireman who plays checkers while waiting for an alarm is working during such periods of inactivity. These employees have been “engaged to wait.”

4.) On-Call Time: An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises is working while “on call.” An employee who is required to remain on call at home, or who is allowed to leave a message where he/she can be reached, is not working (in most cases) while on call. Additional constraints on the employee’s freedom could require this time to be compensated.

5.) Sleeping Time and Certain Other Activities: An employee who is required to be on duty for less than 24 hours is working even though he/she is permitted to sleep or engage in other personal activities when not busy. An employee required to be on duty for 24 hours or more may agree with the employer to exclude from hours worked bona fide regularly scheduled sleeping periods of not more than 8 hours, provided adequate sleeping facilities are furnished by the employer and the employee can usually enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep. No reduction is permitted unless at least 5 hours of sleep is taken.

6.) Lectures, Meetings and Training Programs: Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met, namely: it is outside normal hours, it is voluntary, not job related, and no other work is concurrently performed.

 7.) Travel Time: The principles which apply in determining whether time spent in travel is compensable time depends upon the kind of travel involved.

 8.)Home to Work Travel: An employee who travels from home before the regular workday and returns to his/her home at the end of the workday is engaged in ordinary home to work travel, which is not work time.

 9.) Home to Work on a Special One Day Assignment in Another City: An employee who regularly works at a fixed location in one city is given a special one day assignment in another city and returns home the same day. The time spent in traveling to and returning from the other city is work time, except that the employer may deduct/not count that time the employee would normally spend commuting to the regular work site.

10.)  Travel That is All in a Day’s Work: Time spent by an employee in travel as part of their principal activity, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.

 11.) Travel Away from Home Community: Travel that keeps an employee away from home overnight is travel away from home. Travel away from home is clearly work time when it cuts across the employee’s workday. The time is not only hours worked on regular working days during normal working hours but also during corresponding hours on nonworking days. As an enforcement policy the Division will not consider as work time that time spent in travel away from home outside of regular working hours as a passenger on an airplane, train, boat, bus, or automobile.

12.) What does “Employ” Mean under the FLSA?

By statutory definition the term “employ” includes “to suffer or permit to work.” The workweek ordinarily includes all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty or at a prescribed work place. “Workday“, in general, means the period between the time on any particular day when such employee commences his/her “principal activity” and the time on that day at which he/she ceases such principal activity or activities. The workday may therefore be longer than the employee’s scheduled time.

 If you feel that you have not been compensated for all the hours you have worked you may call the law office for a FREE strictly confidential consultation about your claim for minimum wage or unpaid overtime wage violations at: (954) 948-8130. Or you can complete the simple form below for submission to us.  Please be advised that by merely submitting this form, no Attorney-Client relationship is formed with the law firm.   You must provide your name,  home or cell phone number, your email address and your zip code in the form.  We look forward to discussing your possible minimum wage and/or overtime pay violations claim We are passionate about defending and enforcing workers’ rights for unpaid wages.