When employees are expected to work more hours, they expect to get paid for those additional hours. Unfortunately, some California employers try to avoid paying for extra hours by attempting to intimidate their workers into not taking their breaks or lunches, while others try to get employees to work off the clock, so that they do not have to pay them for their time. One large employer is now facing a payment dispute in which it is accused of illegal practices.
Zillow, an online real estate company, is being sued by one of its former sales representatives for violating federal and state labor laws. The plaintiff filed the complaint on his own behalf, as well as on the behalf of other workers who were allegedly not paid appropriately or who were not allowed to take their legally sanctioned rest periods. According to California labor law, workers are required to be given at least a 10-minute break for every four hours of work. According to the complaint, intimidating tactics were used to push workers to not take their break and lunch periods.
The workers purportedly had their time sheets doctored by the defendant. Employees were told to come in early and stay late, but then were not paid for their additional time. They also were allegedly not paid for any breaks and lunches through which they worked. If the court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the class action lawsuit could result in $5 million in unpaid wages and damages.
It is illegal for employers to force workers to not take their designated rest periods or to require them to not punch in for time that they are working. California employees who find themselves in similar situations may first choose to speak to human resources about the issue in hopes of having it remedied. If the payment issue is not corrected, workers may choose to file complaints against their employers. Workers who win their cases may be awarded their unpaid wages, as well as have documentation put in place to prevent similar violations from occurring in the future.
Source: thinkprogress.org, "The Facebook Of Real Estate Allegedly Forced Workers To Skip Meals And Work Without Pay", Lauren C.Williams, Nov. 21, 2014