healthcare worker working through lunch

Many industries use timekeeping systems that automatically deduct lunch breaks from employees’ paid hours. This practice is especially common with hospital direct care workers. The problem is that employees are often expected to work during their lunch “breaks,” which means they should be paid for that time. One recent class action lawsuit arising out of Ohio goes to demonstrate just how frequently employers use this tactic to shortchange their employees.

Denying pay to workers who have earned it is considered wage theft. It comes in many forms, from improperly deducting for meal breaks to overtime and minimum wage violations. The Lore Law Firm represents clients in all aspects of wage and hour matters nationwide, and we’re ready to help you recover the pay that was wrongfully withheld from you.

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What You Need to Know About Marcy v. Select Medical Corporation

If you work for a company that does not pay you for your meal or lunch breaks, you should know about this class action lawsuit that arose in Ohio. A federal lawsuit against a healthcare facility alleged that the company did not pay workers during their lunch breaks, even though they worked through lunch. A 30-minute meal break was automatically deducted, which effectively denied overtime pay to the workers.

During the so-called lunch break, the employees in question did not actually have uninterrupted time to rest from their work. Because of understaffing, the employees had to take on extra duties during their breaks. The 30-minute break was therefore automatically deducted even though the employees were not given a full, actual break.

When employees are not paid for working lunch breaks, they are often not just denied their regular pay. If the “meal breaks” should have been counted as working hours, and the total hours worked exceed 40 during a work week, the employee is also entitled to overtime. That was the case with Marcy v. Select Medical Corporation, filed in the Southern District of Ohio federal court.

Don’t Let Employers Cheat You Out of Your Hours

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth rules concerning wages that workers have to be paid. That includes meal breaks and rest periods during which an employee is called upon to work.

Generally, short rest periods (e.g. 20 minutes or less) must count as hours worked. Longer periods (usually 30 minutes or more) that are devoted to meals usually do not have to be paid. However, the employee must actually be relieved of all work duties during this time for the employer to avoid having to include this time as hours worked.

If the employee has to work during a break, that time counts as hours worked. Often, employers don’t expressly tell their employees to work during lunch breaks. However, the employee may be “on call” or expected to perform tasks they don’t usually do. This still counts as work and should be paid.

Are You Being Fully Paid for All Your Hours?

An automatic meal deduction for working time is just one example of how employees are frequently denied the full pay to which they are entitled. For instance, by some estimates, workers are cheated out of $8 billion every year through minimum wage violations alone.

The Lore Law Firm believes that every employee deserves to be paid for the work they’ve done. Do you have questions about unpaid meal breaks, overtime, or minimum wage? Are you unsure whether your employer is upholding its legal obligations? We encourage you to fill out our client intake form today so we can provide a free and confidential review of your situation. 

Michael Lore is the founder of The Lore Law Firm. For over 25 years, his law practice and experience extend from representing individuals in all aspects of labor & employment law, with a concentration in class and collective actions seeking to recover unpaid back overtime wages, to matters involving executive severance negotiations, non-compete provisions and serious personal injury (work and non-work related). He has handled matters both in the state and federal courts nationwide as well as via related administrative agencies. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Michael by using our chat functionality.