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Court rules against docking paychecks for long restroom breaks

In a recent case, an appellate court determined that deducting pay from employees who spend more than a minute and a half in the restroom is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This ruling could have impacts on Texas work environments.

The appellate review emanated from a case involving Progressive Business Publications, a company that publishes industry newsletters and trade journals. Court records indicate that PBP convinced employees to enter into a flexible agreement in relation to the performance of their duties; the workers could take as much personal time as they needed to when stepping away from their workstations, but only with the understanding that they would not be paid for this time.

Even when considering the nature of agreements, the court did not side with the labor practices. In this case, the judges believed that the practices essentially forced employees to choose between basic bodily necessities and being monetarily penalized. The court cited provisions of the the FLSA that state employees who spend less than 20 minutes in the bathroom must be normally compensated. If employees take advantage of the 20-minute rule, the court believed that they should be disciplined rather than docked pay.

No matter where one is employed, they are entitled to certain rights. These employee rights include receiving fair pay. Oil field workers, day-rate laborers, independent contractors, and salaried workers who feel that their bosses are infringing upon their rights could seek adequate representation. A lawyer could defend an employee's rights during any wage disputes.

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