In a lawsuit taking place in multiple states against AT&T, employees are firing back against the employer for restricting employee rights by enacting harsh parameters around the employee's unpaid lunch breaks. Reportedly, disciplinary action could be taken if the employees failed to adhere to the parameters.
In a statement issued by an AT&T spokesperson, "AT&T is committed to full compliance with all federal and state laws, including the wage and hour laws, and has received numerous awards for being an employer of choice." This statement appears to ring as hollow and false in light of some of the restrictions on the employees unpaid lunch break:
- Packed lunches may be consumed in the company vehicles, but after eating, the employee is not permitted to read, use personal computers or nap for the remainder of their unpaid break.
- Manhole workers are not permitted to be outside of a half mile radius of their worksite on their lunch break.
- Workers may not enjoy heat or air conditioning in vehicles on lunch break by idling the company vehicle.
Reportedly, employees are fighting back and asserting that the company has violated the Fair Labor Standards Act because the restrictions coerced employees into working for at least part of their lunch break without being compensated at time and a half for excess hours. The outcome of this case remains to seen, but the employees are seeking damages.
Source: ABC News, "AT&T Workers Claim Lunch Break Violations," Lyneka Little, Aug. 15, 2012
- Our firm handles cases of a similar nature in New York to the case detailed above. If an employee would like to know more about their rights, they may wish to visit our New York employment law page