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Lunch Break - Discrimination Florida

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  • Lunch Break - Discrimination Florida

    We have a non-exempt employee who desires to work through her lunch hour and be paid. She is a full time employee who very occasionally works 40 hours, usually several less than 40. We do not allow other employees to work through lunch. If we allow her to work through lunch; will we be liable for a discriminatory issue from other employees? Thanks.

  • #2
    Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible. Would it go anywhere? Almost certainly not. Not every "discriminatory" act is illegal; in fact, the great majority of them are not.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      Not necessarily, but it's not outside the realm of possiblity either.

      If other employees have requested to be allowed to work through lunch and been refused, and if the one you are considering approving happens to be the only one who is black, or white, or Jewish, or Christian, or female, or pregnant, or not pregnant, or you get the idea, it will be hard for you to defend against a discrimination claim. Especially if future requests from people who are not (name the protected characteristic belonging to the approved employee) are also approved.

      On the other hand, if other employees have requested this and been refused, but they are all in Customer Service and this employee is in Accounting, and subsequent requests from Accounting are also approved, that would be easier to defend, because the department people work for is not protected by law.

      Is there a reason you are considering granting this exception?
      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.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by FL-GM View Post
        We have a non-exempt employee who desires to work through her lunch hour and be paid. She is a full time employee who very occasionally works 40 hours, usually several less than 40. We do not allow other employees to work through lunch. If we allow her to work through lunch; will we be liable for a discriminatory issue from other employees? Thanks.
        Fl. doesn't require any breaks except for minors. However; if you require employees to take an unpaid lunch break, I would make her take it. Otherwise, you are going to have other employees also wanting to work through their lunch.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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        • #5
          Who knows? "Discrimination" per se is not illegal. For "discrimination" to be illegal, an actual law must be violated. For example, Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate based on gender, race and other things. Maybe some other employee will claim that this discrimination occured for a Title VII or other illegal reason. Maybe a judge will believe them. Of course, this is a whole bunch of maybes. If you (the employer) never discriminates, then it becomes very difficult for employees to claim that illegal discrimination occurs. Of course, if you (the employer) choose to discriminate, then you have left the door open for some employee to claim that an illegal discrimination has occured. Not saying that you will lose, but the chances increase.

          The bigger the employer, the less tolerence the employer tends to have for having hundreds of little line managers making up the rules on the fly. And any time the employer creates rules, but is selective on enforcing those rules, risks have been created that would not have otherwise existed.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by cbg View Post
            Not necessarily, but it's not outside the realm of possiblity either.

            If other employees have requested to be allowed to work through lunch and been refused, and if the one you are considering approving happens to be the only one who is black, or white, or Jewish, or Christian, or female, or pregnant, or not pregnant, or you get the idea, it will be hard for you to defend against a discrimination claim. Especially if future requests from people who are not (name the protected characteristic belonging to the approved employee) are also approved.

            On the other hand, if other employees have requested this and been refused, but they are all in Customer Service and this employee is in Accounting, and subsequent requests from Accounting are also approved, that would be easier to defend, because the department people work for is not protected by law.

            Is there a reason you are considering granting this exception?
            She is the owner's daughter.

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            • #7
              If you wanted to do so on the basis that she is the owner's daughter, that would not be ILLEGAL discrimination. I'm still not convinced it would be a good idea, but it wouldn't put you in any immediate danger of a lawsuit.
              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.

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              • #8
                Agree with cbg, but on the other hand, is there any reason you couldn't make this option available to other similarly situated employees (assuming, of course, you wouldn't interrupt operations by doing so). I bet you'd get a lot of takers and it would be a pretty neat morale booster for zero bucks. Just sayin'.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                • #9
                  Offering the same to others may be an option. Thanks all for your input.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Betty3 View Post
                    Fl. doesn't require any breaks except for minors. However; if you require employees to take an unpaid lunch break, I would make her take it. Otherwise, you are going to have other employees also wanting to work through their lunch.
                    I've been in this situation before, and let me just say once you offer it to anyone or everyone it ultimately becomes a gigantic headache...my experience. Now the fact that she is the owners daughter, and is part time? (I assume part time since she rarely works 40) you might squeak by without any trouble.

                    Tough call though.
                    Not everything in America is actionable in a court of law. Please remember that attorneys are in business for profit, and they get paid regardless of whether or not you win or lose.

                    I offer my knowledge and experience at no charge, I admit that I am NOT infallible, I am wrong sometimes, hopefully another responder will correct me if that is the case with the answer above, regardless, it is your responsibility to verify any and all information provided.

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                    • #11
                      While I agree with the other people who say that this is a bad idea, I am going to make a slightly different argument. If the employer is going to get sued by some employee for say a Title VII claim, the fact that the favored employee is the owner's daughter is actually a good thing. Because the employer can make a very strong case that the discrimination is occurring because of nepotism (which is not illegal).

                      The law does not say that the employer can never discriminate or that all discrimination is illegal. Legal practice however say that discrimination creates risk that otherwise would not exist. It also risk alienating the workforce.
                      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                      • #12
                        My point was that allowing one employee to do it & not others who may also want to could be bad for employee morale.
                        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                        • #13
                          Betty, while I agree, I have to say that most of the time nepotism is presumed whether or not it is there when it comes to a situation like this.
                          Not everything in America is actionable in a court of law. Please remember that attorneys are in business for profit, and they get paid regardless of whether or not you win or lose.

                          I offer my knowledge and experience at no charge, I admit that I am NOT infallible, I am wrong sometimes, hopefully another responder will correct me if that is the case with the answer above, regardless, it is your responsibility to verify any and all information provided.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Oh, I agree - I was just saying ... as DAW also said, "It also risk alienating the workforce."
                            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                            Comment

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