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Forced to Take a Lunch Break N.J.

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  • Forced to Take a Lunch Break N.J.

    I work for an alarm company as a service Technician. I run 5 - 6 calls per day and usually work 9 - 11 hours. They deduct the 1st 30 minutes drive to the 1st call and deduct 30 minutes from the travel home from the last call.The calls are scheduled 8-12 am and 12- 4 pm. Typically the travel time between calls are about an hour. My company recently implemented a mandatory lunch and demands we stop for 30 minutes every day. The problem we have is that often when we do it causes us to be late to our last customer so sometimes we have to skip it to get to our appointment on time. They schedule our 1st call at 8 am and our last at 4 pm. I had suggested moving the last call to 4:30 to accommodate a lunch.I understand my company can make the policy but they do not allow time for the lunches and if we work through them they will write us up. Is it lawful for them to force us to take a lunch?

  • #2
    This is maybe complicated.

    1. It is completely lawful for the employer to force you to take a lunch break whether you want to or not. It is completely lawful to fire the employee for failing to do so.
    2. It is completely lawful to deduct for commuting to/from work to home. Commutes are not legally considered to be hours worked. If you say that the commute takes 20 minutes and the employer says it takes 30, that is a disagreement of fact and not law. The law is very clear. The "facts" maybe less so.
    3. HOWEVER it is legally required to pay minimum wage for all hours worked, and overtime if applicable. Base pay in excess of minimum wage is a different issue and is legally complicated, since we are no longer talking about federal law (FLSA), but rather state law requirements and I do not know your state's laws. So if you work through lunch the employer is legally required to pay for all hours worked under MW/OT laws, but they are legally allowed to fire you for doing so.
    4. If this went to court, your version of the facts is likely to be different then their version of the facts. And then the judge/ALJ gets to decide whose facts they like best. The law is very clear here. The facts, maybe not so much.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)