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Overtime and Break Violations

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Junior Member
I am from Missouri (I and the co-workers mentioned in here are Customer Service Representatives by phone, email, fax, & mail. WE ARE NON-EXEMPT EMPLOYEES)

I went to work for a company in March 2004. Upon my hiring I was told that I would be allowed up to an hour break for lunch which I must clock out for, also that 15 minutes would be deducted from my paycheck automatically for every 4 hours I worked. I found this to be odd b/c I had NEVER worked a job where this was automatically taken out. I was encouraged to take these breaks even if I didn’t choose to since I wasn’t being paid for them. I asked other co-workers if this is what they were told as well- indeed it was. I found a moment to ask the accountant if this was legal. Her response was shocking- She said that she didn’t have a clue, that she used to work for the owners years before and that she was called back to work for them again and they trained her.

Around July 2004, a newer co-worker of mine approached me to ask the very same question I did. She found it odd as well. We did some research online, but were still unsure if we had a legitimate situation. Well, at the end of February 2005, she was asked to take a business trip, and was told she’d be paid for 8 hrs/day. This would have left her with 10 hours overtime, as she had 35 hrs the first week and 50 hours the second week. When she received her paycheck it only had 5 hours of overtime on it. She then approached the administration. She mentioned BOTH the overtime violation and the break process. They thanked her for making them aware of the situation.

The next thing we know, they are meeting with each individual (Approx. 25 in the company) employee to hand out “Banked Overtime” checks (which no one has ever consented to, and to my knowledge is illegal unless there is a written contract) They stated in my meeting that “someone had come forward and just NOW wanted to be paid for hours they worked overtime last summer.” It was also stated that “they were not obligated to pay this back, but they were just being nice and doing it for everyone”. Along with this they also changed their break policy allowing as many breaks as we wanted BUT we must clock out anytime we are out of our seats except to use the rest room.

According to Missouri Law, there are NO laws having to do with meal periods or snack breaks. However, Federal Law States:

“Rest and Meal Periods: Rest periods of short duration, usually 20 minutes or less, are common in industry (and promote the efficiency of the employee) and are customarily paid for as working time. These short periods must be counted as hours worked. Unauthorized extensions of authorized work breaks need not be counted as hours worked when the employer has expressly and unambiguously communicated to the employee that the authorized break may only last for a specific length of time, that any extension of the break is contrary to the employer's rules, and any extension of the break will be punished. Bona fide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally need not be compensated as work time. The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. The employee is not relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive, while eating. “- Retrieved from DOL.gov
We contacted the MO Dept of Labor and were told we would need to prove the offenses before they would investigate.

My Questions:
- After a year + of 2.5 hours taken automatically every week, all employees are owed considerable amounts.
- Should the old system of breaks be paid. If so, then the "banked overtime" would need to be recalculated, correct? (If that’s even legal)
- Am I right or wrong in my vision?

Thank you to whoever takes the time to read and post back. We do appreciate it 1000%!


Junior Member
one other question:

Now that they have this new system, as long as total breaks are under 30 minutes, shouldn't that be paid as well?


Senior Member
We contacted the MO Dept of Labor and were told we would need to prove the offenses before they would investigate. Huh?!? And how exactly do they expect you to get hold of your employer's payroll records? Stage a break-in at midnight? That's absurd.

I suggest you contact MO's Department of Labor and ask about your situation again. There are multiple wage and hour violations described in your post, including this "banked overtime" nonsense. If you didn't personally make the call the first time to the State DOL, then I can't help but believe whoever did misunderstood what he or she was told. If you still get the same nonsensical answer from the State, ask to speak to a Supervisor. If you still get a run-around, then contact the federal Department of Labor. What you describe violates federal wage and hour laws, not just State.

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