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questions about breaks at work, Iowa

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  • questions about breaks at work, Iowa

    I work at a facility to help the physically and mentally challenged. The facility is a work program for these people (consumers). We have 13 floor employees, 6 smokers and 7 non-smokers. I have been working at this facility for 5 months. I used to be a smoker and quit about 7 weeks ago. I used to get along with all my co-workers but now I find my self getting more irritated with some of them especially the smokers. We take a break when the consumers take a break and I noticed when I first started working here that not everyone took a break at break time, I just thought they were not wanting to take a break because there was no break area for the non-smokers except the rooms they work in or outside with the smokers. Then there is the fact that some of the consumers can not be left alone and thought that my co-workers are really dedicated to their job and didn't need a break. Well I was wrong. Now that I don't smoke I don't get a break. Only the smokers do. About a week ago a co-worker finially asked our supervisor to please fix this issue, so the super made a schedule where we get a 5 minute break at 10 am and at 1:30 pm. The lunch period is at 11:30 till 12:15, 45 minutes, during that time we get 10 minutes for a break and somewhere in there find the time to eat your lunch. We are not to leave are consumers that we are responsible for unless we find a co-worker to watch the consumers for us. If they won't then you don't get a break. And we have a schedule that we are to follow as to who goes out and at what time which is a joke because no one goes out when there suppose to and some consumers can't be left alone and so we can't leave when were suppose to because well we just can't. We are going on our 2nd week of this schedule and I have had 1 10 min. break and 1 5 min break and that was the 1st. day of the schedule. I have talked to all the other non-smokers and they have not had a break either. But the smokers get a break regardless. I am not a bitter person towards the smokers really I'm not. I just wan't the same privlage that they do. So my question is during an 8 hour work period isn't it the law the you the employee are to get a break every so often for so long and some kind of lunch period ? Can our work place allow this to keep going on or is this discrimination. Can I do anything about this? If so how can I approach my employer to get the matter resolved and to let them know that we want to be taken serious. We need a break to.

  • #2
    No, neither Federal nor Iowa law requires breaks of any kind, including lunch breaks, sorry. Smoking/non-smoking is not a protected class under either Iowa or Federal law, so "discrimination" on that basis is not illegal.

    Unfortunately, this falls under the "unfair but not illegal" category. It is something you will have to work out with your employer internally; there are no laws that are going to help you. I wish I could give you a different answer.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Thank You for your fast reply. I was hoping for a different answer but now I know. Again Thank You