Massachusetts workers think nothing of using the restroom while they are work as it only takes a few minutes from their day. In another state, a publishing business reportedly required its employees to clock out when they took trips to the lavatory. The company has been accused in federal court of violating wage and hour laws, particularly the Fair Labor Standard Act. The complaint was filed in 2012 by the Department of Labor.
Allegedly, the workers were being paid minimum wage, though that is not what they were actually receiving. Each time the employees used the bathroom, they were apparently required to consider it as a short break and punch out on the time clock. With this time deducted, the workers were apparently no longer being paid the minimum wage.
The company contends that it does not have to provide paid short breaks for employees and are not in violation of the law. According to the FLSA, companies are not forced to offer small -- approximately 20 minute -- personal breaks to employees. However, if a company does provide them, the company is required to pay the workers for that time.
A judge ruled that the company was in violation of wage and hour laws and that nearly 6,000 employees across three states could share in the $1.75 million damages awarded for back pay. The affected employees worked for the company from 2009 through 2013. It was reported that, despite the ruling, the company is still not compliant and the amount of damages will continue to rise until it fully conforms to the law. Many unscrupulous employers in Massachusetts in elsewhere try different schemes to avoid paying workers what they deserve. Aggrieved employees who believe they are the victims of wage theft have the right to pursue claims for what they believe is owed to them.
Source: myfoxboston.com, "Company must pay after making workers clock out for bathroom breaks", Jan. 5, 2016