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Dental Practice Sued for Allegedly Refusing to Allow Dental Assistants to Take Breaks


As this blog has discussed, breaks are just as important as overtime. According to the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to provide their workers with one ten-minute break for every four hours worked. If an employee misses a break for any reason, they must be paid one hour of their normal wage for each day that a break is missed.

Gina, a registered dental assistant for Small Care Dental Clinic in California, enjoyed these mandated breaks until the company was bought out by Coast Dental. The day after Coast Dental acquired the company, the registered dental assistants were all trained on their new computer systems. The next day, all six of the non-registered dental assistants were fired. According to Gina, the remaining three registered dental assistants were then “left holding the bag” because the work load didn’t change.

Additionally, the dental assistants were made to clean the clinic. While Small Care had provided a cleaning service to come in at night to clean the clinic, Coast Dental put an end to that and instead provided the clinic with cleaning supplies. The dental assistants, after missing their breaks because they were too busy with patients, now had to mop the floors and sterilize the operating rooms before they could leave. This required significant overtime and, although they did get paid for their overtime hours, Coast Dental complained about the extra pay and it added a lot of stress to the workers. Gina says that none of them signed up for the work but they were allegedly told by their office manager “that if we wanted to work there we had no choice”.

According to Gina, when the dental assistants complained that they weren’t getting their breaks, they were simply told “then take a break”. But there was no one to relieve them and the dentists and patients continued to require assistance. Allegedly, the dental assistants frequently didn’t have time to go to the bathroom and they would get in trouble just for going to the break room for a drink.

The dental assistants were unable to add their breaks to their time sheets because it was a time clock system where they punched in and out at the beginning and end of their shifts and punched in and out for their lunch breaks. Gina says, “We all knew it was against the law to deny our breaks but everyone was afraid to complain”. Gina however, is no longer afraid to complain. She reported Coast Dental to the California labor board and has filed a complaint with an employment attorney.

The Illinois overtime attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against hospitals and large doctor and dental practices and chains for erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The Illinois unpaid overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Naperville and Barrington. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Hoffman Estates and Rolling Meadows overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.v