Is it illegal if my employer doesn’t let me take a lunch break and doesn’t pay me for it?
5 attorney answers
Many nurses belong to work unions. Have you reported the incident to your work union?
"“the times you aren’t as busy throughout the night probably adds up to 30 min.” are not the same as being totally free from any work duty. Being free from any work duty is what a lunch break is supposed to be. If the employee is not free from all work duties, the employer needs to pay for the lunch break.
You can report the employer to the WA Labor & industries at www.lni.wa.gov .
You can also hire a private attorney to sue your employer. When you win your lawsuit, the court can award you double your unpaid pay and your attorney's fees.
No, your employer is committing a fair labor standards act violation.
This answer does not constitute legal advice and you should contact an attorney to confirm or research further any statements made in this answer. Any statements of fact or law I have made in this answer pertain solely to New York State and should not be relied upon in any way in any other jurisdiction.
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Yes, based on your description it sounds like a violation. You could be entitled to payment for an additional 1/2 hour per 5 hours representing the time you should have been paid while not working. We are handling a similar matter now. We recommend you reach out to an experienced employment attorney to assist you.
As an attorney that has prosecuted a lot of meal break cases including a number of class actions, including a class of ~400 nurses recently and another new one involving medical assistants, I have observed the healthcare industry as being among the most frequent violators of meal and rest period law.
Even if what your supervisor says is true, you would have had to be completely free from duty in order for them to deduct the 30 minutes of pay and they will have trouble proving you took the meal periods during that downtime in a lawsuit, which would mean an additional 30 minutes of pay in addition to the 30 unlawfully deducted, for a total of one hour, every day for three years, etc. That time is probably at overtime wages, so it adds up to a significant amount of money.
What is fascinating to me is that employers, and particularly health care employers, continue to get away with these illegal policies and practices because no one ever steps up and challenges them. I strongly recommend talking to an employment attorney with a lot of experience in prosecuting cases like this.
Some of us offer completely free consultations and take cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning you pay no legal fees unless you recover back wages owed. You may also be able to be the hero of all nurses you work with by filing a class action and getting everyone the back wages it sounds they are owed. But until you or someone else challenges the policy, it will continue.
Yes. It sounds like a violation, although it would be worth reviewing the issue thoroughly with an attorney experienced in employment law.