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Employers Must Provide 10 Minute Breaks for Every 4 Hours Worked


This blog has previously discussed the labor law requirement for providing employees with a paid break of at least ten minutes for every four hours worked. If, for whatever reason, this break is not taken or is cut short, the employer is required to pay the employee one hour of their normal wages for each day that a break is missed.

According to California labor law, if an employee is required to remain “on call” during a break, it is not a true break and the employer owes the employee compensation for that time. ABM Security Services has been forced to learn this the hard way in a court battle with nearly 15,000 current and former security guards.

The named plaintiff, Jennifer Augustus, alleged that ABM required its security guards to keep their cell phones and pagers with them and turned on, even when on break, so that they remained on call, even when they were supposed to be taking their mandatory rest period as provided by law. ABM had previously acquired an exemption from the government which allowed the security guards to take on call breaks but, when the exemption came up for renewal, ABM never renewed the exemption.

Ms. Augustus filed her complaint in 2005. Her class action was certified and allowed to proceed as such. Recently, Judge Wiley ruled in her favor and ordered ABM to pay the class $89.7 million. This includes wages for all class members, interest, and attorneys’ fees.

ABM maintains that, by requiring their security guards to keep their cell phones and pagers turned on during their breaks, they were not violating any labor laws and they intend to appeal the decision.

The attorneys at Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience litigating wage and hour claims including overtime, meal breaks, vacation pay, and tips. Our offices are conveniently located near Oak Brook and Chicago, Illinois. If you have a wage and hour dispute, contact an Urbana wage and hour attorney today at 312-869-4095 or fill out our online form.