Authored By: Stephen W. Lyman
The Court Turns the Tide of the Epidemic
For several years now there has been a veritable epidemic of class and collective actions filed against employers claiming that employees were not paid for working through their meal periods. These cases arose frequently where employees were subject to automatic meal period deductions of 30 minutes or more even when they worked or were interrupted – unless the employee reported that they actually did work. If anything, this rash of litigation sent a message to employers across the country that they need to be very careful in how they accounted for work being done during lunch periods so that employees could be properly paid for their time.
The tide is turning as courts faced with class action litigation involving hundreds if not thousands of potential plaintiffs began to look closely to see if the class members truly share a common employer-wide complaint or whether individual employees have individual complaints based on their own department’s approach to compensating for missed meal periods. One of the most recent court decisions favoring employers and denying class status was handed down by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of White v. Baptist Memorial Health Care. This case involved a hospital and its automatic deduction policy supplemented by its “Exception Log” practice of accounting for meal period interruptions. (more…)