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non-exempt salaried: Overtime and Lunch Break - Louisiana

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  • non-exempt salaried: Overtime and Lunch Break - Louisiana

    A few questions:

    As a non-exempt, salaried employee in LA, how does payment for lunch breaks work?

    I "know" a couple things already:

    In LA an employer doesn't have to offer a lunch break at all
    As a non-exempt salaried employee I only have to work 40hrs before receiving overtime, i.e. regular overtime rules apply.

    My employee handbook doesn't state anything regarding the rules about lunch breaks (how long, when they may be taken, etc), but up until this point they have been for one hour, coming in the middle of the work day, which has been from 8:30-5:30. My employer is now making noises that they are going to cut our lunch break to 30min (or less) but that we will be keeping the same work hours.
    I am under the impression that in order for the company (not a factory, not trucking - just a regular office job, employing about 30-50 people) to NOT pay overtime, they would have to either keep the same, un-paid lunch hour and keep us there from 8:30-5:30, OR cut our hours by the same amount that they cut our lunch break - eg: work 8:30-5:00 w/ a 30min lunch break.

    Is that accurate? I'm also under the impression that if they gave all of us exempt status that they could make our hours 7am - 7pm without a lunch break and not pay us any more than they currently do (though I know that they would have to take a few other things into consideration before doing that...).

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    How your overtime is calculated has nothing to do with how long your lunch break is.

    In LA, lunch breaks of any kind are not required by law. It is entirely up to the employer how long your lunch break is. Barring a legally binding contract, policy or CBA that specifically says otherwise, your employer may cut your lunch break from one hour to one half hour and it is entirely legal.

    Overtime is calculated not on how many hours it is between when you clock in and when you clock out, but on how much of that time is actually worked. If your lunch break is cut from an hour to a half hour and your beginning and end times are not changed, then you are working an additional two and a half hours for which you must be paid. If that two and a half hours puts you over 40 hours a week, then you must be paid overtime.

    But, if your beginning and/or end time is also changed so that you are still actually working the same number of hours as before, then the fact that your lunch period is shorter does not in any way affect your overtime.

    Any employee can be made non-exempt. Not all employees can be made exempt. The hours that are worked have nothing whatsoever to do with exempt status. Exempt status is a function of the job duties. Both exempt and non-exempt employees have to work whatever hours the employer says - the only difference is whether or not they get overtime for working over 40 hours. And, as I said above, lunch breaks are not required by law at all in LA, so they could cut out a lunch break for either exempt or non-exempt employees, or both, and they would still be legal.
    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
      Thanks for your reply (especially so quickly!)

      To make sure I have it straight:

      There are rules that govern whether or not an employee even CAN be exempt (do you happen to have a link or anything? I had trouble finding anything on that except something about a "floor." If it helps, I'm paid 27,000/year and I'm non-management.)

      It does state in our handbook that we're expected to put in 40hrs/week, so the extra 2.5hrs/wk that would result in a reduction of the lunch break time to 30min while still being expected in at 8:30-5:30 (i.e. increasing work hours by 30min) would result in 5hrs of overtime pay every semi-monthly paycheck.

      Honestly, I'm not going to make a stink about it if they just need me to take a short lunch here and there, but if it becomes company policy I certainly will.

      Thanks again!


      • #4
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5
          Perfect - thanks a million!


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