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Break policies must conform to the FLSA

Texas employees may be interested in a Third Circuit ruling that said employees must be paid for breaks of up to 20 minutes. The ruling came in a case involving employees from Progressive Business Publications. In the lawsuit, the employees claimed that PBP did not pay workers if they were logged off of their computers for more than 90 seconds. The company said it was part of a flexible break policy that allowed workers to leave their work areas whenever they wanted to.

However, the court found that the policy forced workers to choose between getting paid or using the restroom. Ultimately, the ruling was seen to be in opposition to the Fair Labor Standards Act. In response, the company argued that there was no way to prevent workers from taking unlimited breaks lasting 19 minutes. While the court acknowledged that scenario, it said that the company could create a new break policy.

If the policy is broken, workers could then be disciplined for doing so. Employees who repeatedly violated the break policy could then be terminated for their actions. However, it would still be incumbent upon the employer to pay for those multiple break periods. According to the Department of Labor, PBP was required to pay $1.75 million in damages to resolve the matter.

Both employers and employees have rights when it comes to issues related to the workplace. While employers may create workplace policies, they cannot ignore or violate state or federal law. On the other hand, workers should be aware that they may receive discipline up to termination for violating policies that respect employee rights. If individuals on either side have questions or concerns about a policy or how it impacts them, they might benefit by consulting with an attorney.

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