Working through lunch may create overtime issues for employers

Thomson Reuters had such a bad week last week that I had to spread the news over two blog posts. Here is part one about how the National Labor Relations Board is set to file a complaint against Thomson Reuters for allegedly disciplining an employee who tweeted about labor/management relations.

After the jump, see how bloggers unite to try to stick it to the man for allegedly requiring them to work through their lunch hour without paying overtime…

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Bloggers unite against Thomson Reuters!

Erin Sherbert has the scoop over at SFWeekly.com:

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“A San Francisco writer is leading a class action lawsuit against media giant Thomson Reuters, claiming the company worked them to the bone without paying them overtime or giving them proper meal breaks.

Jason Beahm, a local attorney and journalist, started working as a writer FindLaw, an online legal publication owned by Reuters, at its Sunnyvale offices in March 2010, where he says he and his fellow bloggers regularly worked in excess of eight hours a day without compensation.

The writers were also encouraged to skip lunch breaks and instead churn out copy, said Bill Corman, the attorney representing Beahm.

The lawsuit covers roughly 50 writers who worked there or are currently employed at FindLaw. Corman said that Beahm made $23 an hour as a full-time staff blogger for the site. The writers were required to write eight blog posts a day.”

You can find a copy of the Thomson Reuters complaint here. This case involves lunch breaks and California law. I must admit that I am not that well-versed in CA wage and hour law. However, I do know that federal law does not require lunch or coffee breaks. However, when employers do offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours that would be included in the sum of hours worked during the work week and considered in determining if overtime was worked. Meals periods, however, are generally not compensable and do not factor into overtime calculations. However, if an employer offers lunch breaks, but forces non-exempt employees to work through those lunch breaks, then that time is compensable. Consequently, if a non-exempt employee works over 40 hours in a week, including work performed during lunch hours at the employer’s request, then that employee must receive overtime at 1 1/2 times the employee’s hourly rate of pay.

Wage and hour issues can create a minefield for employers. Here are 15 wage and hour resources for employers, including a few on exempt vs. non-exempt employees, lunch breaks, and some questions and answers on overtime requirements.

Image credit: cnet.com

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