Best Ohio Wage And Hour Attorney Answer: Am I entitled to a break at work? Can I sue my employer for not giving me a break during a long shift? Should I be paid for my lunch break at work? What can I do if my doctor says that I need to take a break at work, but my boss won’t let me?
At The Spitz Law Firm, our employment lawyers often run into issues dealing with employees who haven’t been paid for the proper number of hours that they have worked or overtime. (See How Do I Prove That I Was Not Paid Overtime? – Call The Right Attorney; How Do The New Overtime Rules Help Me? I Need The Top Wage And Hour Lawyer In Ohio!)
Our wage law attorney blog has recently had several posts about the sweeping changes that will improve the lives of millions of Ohio employees following the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA“) that will take effect December, 2016. One issue that has recently come up is how the 40 hour work week is to be calculated. Our wage theft lawyer have had several calls recently with employees angered because their employer either doesn’t provide for a lunch break during shifts, don’t pay for any break over 20 minutes, or worse yet, doesn’t provide for any break at all.
Let’s face it, a break during the work day isn’t just for employee relaxation. It seems like common sense that a regular break is a matter of safety to the employee who must focus, either physically or mentally, to the tasks at hand. For many, a slip in attention can result in an injury not just to the employee but to those around them. As an employer, it would also seem like common sense that an occasional break would result in better employee morale, less employment place injuries, and better production.
Good news first. There are protections for employees under the age of eighteen. (Although, our wage lawyers just blogged about problems that minors that work face – see Can Employers Pay Minors Less Than Minimum Wage?). Your children, when they enter the workplace, must be given a thirty minute break any time that they work more than five hours. According to Ohio R.C. § 4109.07, “‘Minor’ means any persons less than eighteen years of age”; and Ohio R.C. § 4109.01 further provides:
No employer shall employ a minor more than five consecutive hours without allowing the minor a rest period of at least thirty minutes. The rest period need not be included in the computation of the number of hours worked by the minor.
This seems like little protection for the youngest members of our work force. According to Ohio law, an employer may put your child to work for up to five hours without the need for a single break. However, the rest of the story is even more startling. Under Ohio law, and in fact the law of most states, an employer has absolutely zero obligation to provide a break of any kind to workers over the age of 18!
The disturbing truth is that only 8 states have laws requiring that a paid break of any kind be given to its adult employees. According to the Department of Labor (“DOL“) California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are the only states that provide required work breaks for its adult workers during a work shift. Only 21 states have laws that require a meal break of any kind be provided to its employees, whether paid or unpaid. Ohio is not included as one of the states that has a requirement for a work break or meal break at any time during a work day.
The FLSA offers slightly more protection to the Ohio employee, but not much. The protection of the FLSA currently applies to individuals who make $23,660 or less per year. As of December 1, 2016 those protections will be extended to employees who make $47,476 per year or less.
According to the DOL if an employer allows for rest periods of short duration consisting of 20 minutes or less they must be counted as hours worked. Bona fide meal periods, thirty minutes or more, need not be compensated nor do they need to be applied towards work hours. However, meal breaks must completely relieve the employee from all work activities for an uninterrupted period of thirty minutes.
If you are asked to engage in any work related activities during an uncompensated period of a meal break, that is no longer considered a meal break and must counted towards your hours worked. In other words, if you are asked to watch the phones, monitor other employees, fill out a report, empty the garbage, even walk a customer to the right aisle in the store then you no longer have an uninterrupted break and the full time must be applied to your total work hours.
The updates to the FLSA in December will have a significant impact on Ohio employees that make between $23,660.00 and $47,476.00 per year. If your “salary” is in that range, be aware that lunches at your desk while working should be a thing of the past unless it is counted towards your hours worked in a week.
Now, there are also exceptions for employees that work with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“), employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees that work with disabilities. For example, employees may need scheduled or flexible bathroom breaks or time to stand up or sit down due to their disability. Diabetic employees or employees that need to take medication with food, can present their boss or manager with medical documentation requesting a lunch break. Our disability discrimination lawyers strongly feel that it would be unreasonable, and therefore unlawful, for an employer to deny a disabled employee a medically necessitated break.
If you believe that your employer is not complying with the requirements of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or the ADA as it relates to either rest periods or meal breaks call The Spitz Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation.
If you believe that your employer is not paying you all of your wages for all of your lawfully earned overtime compensation at a rate of one and half times your normal wages as requires under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act or Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards laws or you are an nonexempt employee that has been misclassified as exempt or independent contractor, contact the attorneys at The Spitz Law Firm today for a free and confidential initial consultation. The wage and hour lawyers at The Spitz Law Firm will provide you with the best options for your overtime pay dispute situation. If you even think that you may be entitled to overtime pay that you are not being paid, call 866-797-6040.
The materials available at the top of this overtime, wage and hour web page and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “Am I entitled to overtime?”, “Does my job have to pay me for …”, “My paycheck is not right…” or “What do I do if…”, the your best option is to contact an Ohio overtime attorney to obtain advice with respect to FLSA questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at the top of this page or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.