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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 38279
Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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Customer Question

I work third shift in a IT roll at a call center. I am the only person in my department during my shift, and company policy requires that it be staffed 24/7/365. I have been told many times that I am required to clock out then back in for my meal break, but that I cannot leave the property and must continue to work should the need arise. There are no food options available on site, save for a few vending machines. Is this legal? If not, what can I do about it?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

How long is your shift? Are you permitted to bring food with you to work, such as a lunch?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My normally scheduled shift is 10 hours plus a one hour off the clock lunch break, so I am on site for 11 hours plus or minus all total. However, due to staffing issues within the last few weeks to month, I am having to come in early to cover a gap within the department, usually leading to anywhere from 12 to 13 hours plus the one hour off the clock lunch break. I am permitted to bring food with me to work such as a lunch, however, room in the company provided refrigerator is limited, and the company provided microwaves are hit or miss. Regardless of this, if I am off the clock and a call/email/work order comes in I am required to address it at that time, regardless of if I am clocked in or not.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your follow-up. I see a few concerns and will address them in order.

If you are hourly and not salaried, you are entitled to a half-hour unpaid lunch break for every 8 hours of work, AND a 15 minute break every 4 hours that is paid for and covered by the employer. While on break or on lunch you do not have to work, and if you do, the employer must compensate you for that time--this is more in reference to the lunch break since working when you are logged out permits you to demand that they pay you for that time. The reason they want you logged out is because if you were still in system, they would be violating federal and state laws for failing to allow you time off. That is a legitimate issue.

The food issue is not really legitimate. An employer is under no duty to provide their own food to you while you work there. So long as you are not barred from bringing your own food, there is no violation, and the employer is not liable.

Good luck.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.
My apologies but I see that you rated my service as 'bad'. I, like you, am evaluated on my customer service as well. What specifically did I fail to address? Your rating does affect me, please let me know what was not discussed, thank you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sir


 


Firstly, it would appear as though you are not completely knowledgeable in regards XXXXX XXXXX labor laws. As stated in Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-2-103 "each employee shall have a thirty-minute unpaid meal break if scheduled to work six (6) hours consecutively", not the eight (8) you have stated above.


 


Second, you state above that if my employer requires me to work while off the clock that "the employer must compensate you for that time" and that I may "demand that they pay (me) for that time". As I am not allowed to leave the site, and am required to continuously monitor all systems (email, server status, work order requests, ect.) as well as answer all request, be they by phone, email, or work order, and address the issues immediately regardless of if I am on the clock or clocked out for my meal break, it seems to me as though I am required to work through the entirety of my so called meal break, even though I am not paid for it.


 


I eagerly await your reply and thoughts and answers on this topic.


 


Signed,


 


Tired and (not fed) up.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Sir,

I appreciate the follow-up. Your question did not show you to be from Tennessee which is why I provided you with Federal law that has an 8 hour limitation and not 6 hours. In either case my answer to you is still correct since you are still entitled to a break, you are not entitled to a 30 minute break every 6 hours, just one break during your shift. In situations where state law is more welcoming and provides more rights, state law is utilized, while the 8 hour limitation is the minimum required in all states.

As for your second point, that is correct in terms of working, and that is what I was discussing. Not being permitted to leave is generally not a major concern; an employer can require that employees remain able to assist even while on break for emergencies. But demanding that you continue reviewing emails and typing out responses is work, which violates both state and federal law, something that I already patiently explained to you in my initial answer. That IS a violation, and you can therefore request that they potentially have someone else who is able to work with you and allow both of you time for breaks and lunch periods.

Good luck

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I see that you rated my answer as 'bad' again after I explained your own concerns. With that in mind I wish you the same type of luck with your concerns that you have wished me with your own ratings. Please take care.

Sincerely,

Dimitry, Esq.

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