No Lunch, No Pay, No Way – Avoiding a Lawsuit
A recent article in the Nashville Post cited a lawsuit filed against a local nursing home by a former employee over lunch break pay policies. But, what does this have to do with IT?
A little background: As policy, some long term care companies automatically deduct 30 minutes from employees’ time worked to cover meal breaks even when the reality is that many are unable to take their full thirty-minute lunch break or habitually don’t take the full 30 minutes. As a result, facilities, like the one cited in the article, No lunch leads to lawsuit, are exposed to potential legal action.
Some employees don’t get to take a lunch break or are not allowed to because of the workload. (Interesting to note, some conscientious employees object to having to rigorously adhere to taking a full 30-minute meal break, because they want to be back on the floor and not let work get further behind. Just sitting around for the full thirty minutes is torture to them.) If a facility automatically deducts 30 minutes for a meal break, management needs to monitor this carefully to make sure that employees indeed take their lunch break.
The ramifications of a decision in favor of a plaintiff could be significant. If the court found the facility in violation of the law, the facility would have to pay the plaintiff for meal breaks not taken. Further, the plaintiff’s attorneys in the above-referenced case are seeking a class-action status for the complaint. That means the facility may have to pay wages owed to all staff who didn’t fully take their meal breaks, possibly even if they are no longer employed by the facility. The cost to the facility for such a decision not only would include the back wages owed and legal fees, but also the time and expense required to audit payroll records as stipulated by the court.
- Are you automatically deducting 30 minutes for a meal break?
- Are your employees taking the full thirty minutes? Are you sure?
- Does your Time and Attendance application enable you to manage meal breaks?
If you are not certain or there is room for reasonable doubt, call PCT. We can help you find a solution that will help you to monitor this and ensure compliance with applicable state laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Certainly, you should consult your HR specialists and legal counsel regarding your existing policies and best practices.