Many companies have a policy of automatically deducting a half-hour for lunch from an employee’s pay even though the employee does not always get to take a full lunch break. If you work during any part of your lunch break, make sure that you are being paid by your employer. As an employee, you are entitled to be paid for every minute that you are working.
Pursuant to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law, it is illegal for an employer to deduct time out of your pay if you have partially or fully worked during your lunch break. Even if you took a break for fifteen (15) minutes and worked for fifteen (15) minutes, if your employer deducted a full thirty (30) minutes, you are entitled to be paid for the fifteen (15) minutes that you were working. Any time that you worked during a lunch break constitutes compensable time for which your employer must pay you.
This failure to pay you for working during your lunch break might also be costing you overtime pay. Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law, provided you are not an exempt employee, you are entitled to be paid one and one-half times your regular rate of pay for all time worked over forty (40) hours in a week. As a result, if adding the extra time that you have not been paid for working during your lunch break places you over forty (40) hours worked in a week, you would be entitled to payment for any such work at a rate of one and one-half times your regular rate of pay.
In addition, it is the employer’s legal responsibility to maintain proper time records of the amount of time its employees have worked. It may well be illegal for your employer to shift onto you the responsibility for keeping track of and/or reporting the amount of time that you have worked during your lunch breaks.
If you believe that you have not been paid for time that you have worked during a lunch break, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss recovering for you the wages and overtime pay that you are owed. Under the New York Labor Law you can go back six (6) years to recover unpaid wages for time that you worked. Under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act you can go back as many as three (3) years if the employer failed to pay you the wages willfully. This can add up to quite a bit of money that is owed to you. In addition, employees who have not been paid all of their wages may be entitled to recover from their employer liquidated damages (twice the amount of wages and overtime pay that you are owed) as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.