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We’re Too Busy for a Break

By Scott posted in Unpaid Overtime on August 16th, 2013

If you have ever worked an hourly wage position, you probably heard in training that the employer was “required” to give you a 30-minute lunch break every shift over a certain number of hours. Employers make a big deal about legal responsibility and break times, yet many employees experience times when they are forced to work through their lunch hour because it was “just too busy” that day.

It is true that a 30-minute meal break is required under California Law for every 5 hours worked by each employee. This means that the employee must take a complete break from any and all work duties. If they are answering phone calls, returning phone calls, answering questions, updating records or anything else they are not on an uninterrupted lunch break.

If you work an 8.0 hour day without a lunch break, you should be credited with 30 minutes of overtime pay. What this basically means is that for every 30 minute lunch break the employer fails to give the employee, they must pay that employee for one hour of work time. An employer cannot claim that an employee waived their right to lunch if the employee chooses to work through lunch because they are too busy and there is no one available to relieve them.

Violations of this law have led to serious lawsuits for employers. A large retail store was required to pay more than $170 million in compensatory damages to approximately 116,000 employees who worked at several of the retailer’s California stores. If you feel that your right to a lunch break has been violated in any way do not be afraid to seek the advice and assistance of an employment law attorney.

Employment Lawyer Los Angeles – Peter K. Levine

Source: Dateline USA “Automatic 30-minute deductions for lunch may be illegal” Joe Sayas 9/14/10

Lawsuit seeks class action status for unpaid overtime

By Scott posted in Unpaid Overtime on August 16th, 2013

Two former utility workers have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were forced to work extra hours, but were not compensated for the overtime hours they worked. The lawsuit claims the company had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, and is seeking unpaid wages and punitive damages.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the two former employees is also seeking class action status, which would allow other former and current employees with similar complaints to also join in on the lawsuit. The claim is that all of the hourly customer service associates who worked for the company for at least the past three years were forced to work in excess of 40 hours per week, but were not compensated for their time.

According to the two employees who filed the recent lawsuit, they were required to work more than 40 hours a week but were not paid for their overtime, which should have been time and a half of their regular pay. Part of this overtime pay also stems from supposedly having to come in earlier before shifts to prepare work spaces and cash drawers, and then have to also continuing working after clocking out to count their cash drawer and deposits.

In addition to the unpaid overtime, the lawsuit also claims that the company forced them to work through breaks, and that they were not paid for their lunch breaks.

One of the employees who filed the lawsuit said that she was considered a “floating” associate who would sometimes have to travel to three different company locations during the day, but that she was not paid for her travel time.

Looking to the future of this case, an attorney for the former employees is seeking class action status, but there is no word yet on how many employees that could potentially include.

Source: San Antonio Express, “SAWS hit with lawsuit on pay,” Guillermo Contreras, 18 May 2011

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