Is this legal?

Big Phil

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Feb 20, 2013
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My boss has told me that when I clock out to take a lunch I have to remain available to help customers. If I do help anyone I must clock in help them and then clock out to finish my meal.

According to the Texas Department of Labor, Title 29 Section 785.19 part A:

Bona fide meal periods are not worktime. Bona fide meal periods do not include coffee breaks or time for snacks. These are rest periods. The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purposes of eating regular meals.

http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/wh_part785.html#785_18

Therefore asking an employee to do so could be construed as illegal.

I know it's all about the interpretation of the law, but am I way off base?
 

txinvestigator

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May 28, 2008
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Texas does not mandate a meal break. A company does not have to give you one at all.

Since you clock back in to help the customer I would say they are within the law

The alternative is they make you stay on the clock completely.
 

deemus

my mama says I'm special
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Feb 1, 2010
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I always think twice about going up against TGT's Most Hated Member, but I think there is some provision about meal time, if you work more than 6 hours.

Phil, if you were issued an employee handbook, look in there. If it addresses specifics, it will control. Generally employees are required to sign a form acknowledging you got it, and will comply with it. Absent that handbook, I am certain there is a provision about providing lunch breaks, etc. But the law is specific about you being clocked in to work. If you are working, you have to clock in. The in and out is a PIA, not sure that is protected against though.

And Texas employees are covered by the DOL regs. Recently again confirmed by a DOL "audit" of a friend's business. (He got hammered, IMO unfairly) My friend was fined by DOL in spite of paying in excess of time and half for OT due to some obscure labor rules.

There are alot of rules related to the conduct of employees and employers.
 

Big Phil

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I understand one doesn't have to have a lunch break under Texas law.

My question is more towards the wording of being "completely relieved of duty".
Meaning if you are given a lunch break you don't have to work.
 

benenglish

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During my working years when I was on lunch break I was free to go anywhere I liked as long as I was back by the time lunch was over. Does your boss physically hold you prisoner in the workplace? Even if it's just for a short-term experiment, do your circumstances make it impossible for you to take a sack lunch to your car and eat it there, using up your entire lunch break?

OTOH, I know of places where the lunch breaks are short (half-hour or less) and they don't actually show up as lunch breaks. In those places, you arrive at work at (say) 8 AM and leave at 4 PM. Somewhere in there, you take 20 minutes to wolf down lunch but your time sheet shows you worked 8 hours straight.

It sounds to me like one of two things is happening.

If your employer never agreed to give you a formal meal break, you need to stay on the clock while you're eating and don't waste more than 20-30 minutes feeding yourself. If your conditions of employment say that you actually get a meal break of more than a half hour, clock out and leave.

A postscript - This in-between, "clock out, take a bite, clock back in to answer a question, clock out to take a sip of your drink, clock back in" stuff is total BS. I get the feeling if you actually did what your boss has directed, then the act of clocking in and out 100 times a day would cause some sort of flag to pop up on a time and attendance report, somewhere. Maybe if you actually did precisely what he asks, the problem might solve itself. There's an old saying along the lines of "Sometimes the best way to hurt someone is to give them exactly what they ask for."
 

Big Phil

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Feb 20, 2013
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The lunch break is to stay away from being considered a full time employee because if Obamacare. So it won't raise any flags.

I don't have a problem not being paid if I'm not working I just don't interpret the law in that I clock in and out indefinitely until I reach a total time of 1 hour.

No we do not have to stay on site, so I will be eating in my car I guess.
 

txinvestigator

TGT Addict
May 28, 2008
14,119
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Ft Worth, TX
I understand one doesn't have to have a lunch break under Texas law.

My question is more towards the wording of being "completely relieved of duty".
Meaning if you are given a lunch break you don't have to work.
The law does not regulate the giving of lunch breaks, it regulates your getting paid for the break or not.

Federal law does not require lunch breaks either.
 
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