You’d better make sure your employment practices line up with your policies, because your company can be sued for either one. Back in 2012, Armida R. filed a class action wage and hour lawsuit against her employer, Burlington Coat Factory, for allegedly denying employees their full meal and rest breaks and requiring employees to submit to security checks after they had clocked out.
Armida worked for Burlington Coat Factory in their Compton, California location. California has very strict legislation to protect its employees from being overworked and/or underpaid. For example, California labor law requires employers to provide all their hourly workers with regular meal and rest breaks throughout the day. For every four hours an employee works, she is entitled to one paid, uninterrupted rest break lasting at least ten minutes. For every five hours worked, employees are entitled to one unpaid, uninterrupted meal break of at least half an hour. For every day an employee does not take one of these breaks, for any reason, the employer owes her one hour’s worth of pay, in addition to all wages, bonuses, and tips earned that day.
According to the wage and hour lawsuit, Burlington Coat Factory’s policy allegedly limited rest breaks to “discrete time frames.” It also allegedly maintained a policy that required employees to submit to security checks after they had clocked out at the end of their shift and for their meal break. Security checks are checks in which employees are searched to make sure they aren’t walking out of the store with any stolen merchandise. When a lot of employees clock out at the same time, they can be made to wait in long lines to get through the security checks. This cuts into their personal time and because it is required by the employer, many workers have argued it is time for which they should be paid. Continue reading