Working Through Lunches

We did an audit on some of the restaurants and found that hourly management employees are not clocking our for lunch periods because they have to help pitch in at all times. In what I have read I thought that this was an ok thing to do "once in a while" according to the FLSA. I thought it couldn't be practiced at every shift.

I would appreciate your thoughts.


p.s. I'm back as bethk again. What the heck? Keep em guessing I always say.

I should have added that I'm referring to our Oregon stores. We also found this situation in one of our Arizona stores but from what I read there are no state laws requiring meal periods in Arizona and so they defer to the federal laws, which also doesn't require meal periods if I'm understanding what I'm reading correctly.


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  • [LEFT][SIZE=2][SIZE=3]Just about one year ago, BOLI clarified the rule on lunch breaks for Oregon employers. Unless there are some special rules for the food service industry, here is what BOLI said as to the only reasons for exceptions to employees having a 30-minute uninterrupted meal period:[/SIZE][/LEFT]
    [/SIZE][FONT=Century Gothic,Century Gothic][SIZE=2]
    [/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Unforeseeable equipment failures, acts of nature, or other unanticipated circumstances [U]rarely or temporarily [/U]preclude the employer from providing a meal period (as distinguished from regular understaffing of key positions); [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Industry practice or custom has established a [U]paid [/U]meal period of less than 30 (but no less than 20) minutes, during which the [U]employee is relieved of all duties[/U]; or [/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Providing a 30-minute unpaid meal period where the employee is relieved of all duties would impose an [U]undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business[/U]. Undue hardship may be established by the employer’s financial and economic circumstances, the number of employees, the effect of meal periods on worksite operations, or a combination of factors. [/FONT]

    You will need to make a decision as to whether your situations fall into the exceptions or not.
  • Thanks David. The "undue hardship" cannot be argued as an every day occurrence. My concern is that a disgruntled employee can have a case against us. I will talk with the CEO and have this changed.

  • Hmm.. I guess my cynical side is thinking that these management employees 1) dont want to hassle with clocking out for their lunches and 2) realize they are getting a paid lunch.

    If I understand the scenario as you have described it, your organization isnt in any kind of trouble as far as the breaks are concerned.

    You may simply be overpaying your hourly management for time that they should be clocking out for (assuming that they can be fully relieved of all duties for their meal breaks).

    Hey, tell me where these restaurants are and David S and myself will go check on them.
  • I will check them out too, I am not too far away.
  • [QUOTE=Paul in Cannon Beach;719068] If I understand the scenario as you have described it, your organization isnt in any kind of trouble as far as the breaks are concerned. QUOTE]

    One of the managers that I talked to yesterday said that they do this because they are always having to jump up and help out. I wouldn't considered that undue hardship because there are always more than enough people working during the lunch hour. But, then again, if their help is needed during their lunch break they would have to be paid or we have another potentially litigious situation. My head hurts........
  • All this discussion about lunch is making me hungry!
  • Well, if you guys were here I would have bought you pizza. Abby's is the best! :)
  • We've written a prohibition against working through lunches into our handbook, and so far I've issued two verbals and a written against the managers who requested/allowed it - not against the employees. No one has been a repeat offender yet. :)
  • Are you saying Abbey's is the restaurant chain or are you promoting a competitor?
  • Nope, not a competitor! When I came to work here I was surprised at how big the company was. Thirty four Abby's stores, 2 Golden Corrals in Idaho and 2 in Arizona, and 5 Sonics, and growing! I'm very busy!

    Frank, thanks for the tip about the handbooks. We're revising ours now so I will suggest we add somehting like you did. I can't believe how much this is happening.
  • I take it one quasi-psycho step farther. I tell all new employees during their orientation that I want them to notify me immediately if any manager asks them to cut their lunch break shorter than 30 minutes, and I remind managers constantly that I'm telling new hires that. I told them that in a branch managers' meeting just last night, and my last statement to them about it was: "You know and I know most employees will do it if you ask, and most of them will not rat you out. But they will start thinking less of you as a manager and a leader if you ask them to do something you know is against policy and results in a violation of the law."
  • That's good Frank, and so very true!
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