Two hourly employees of Hahnemann University Hospital are suing the facility and two of its operating companies to recover allegedly unpaid overtime wages they claim stem from interrupted meal periods.
The plaintiffs, who worked full-time as registered nurses at the hospital, claim that 30 minutes of pay was deducted from each shift for meal breaks. The plaintiffs say that half of their meal breaks were interrupted, however, and that they should have been compensated for this time.
“On these days, [the plaintiffs] ate on the run, either between work-related tasks, or while charting and manning the phones,” the suit explains.
According to the complaint, the hospital maintains a policy that requires employees to prioritize patient care over meal periods while simultaneously maintaining low staffing levels that inevitably result in interrupted or missed breaks.
Although the defendants put forth procedures that ostensibly allow employees to request wages for missed meal breaks, they allegedly do not maintain any policy that allows employees to track, record or report these interrupted breaks. The complaint claims that as a result, the defendants’ employees “do not know they have any right to claim pay for an interrupted meal break [and] do not maintain any contemporaneous records of their interrupted meal breaks.” Further, the hospital’s managers reportedly “exacerbated” the defendants’ alleged wage and hour abuses by routinely discouraging employees from seeking compensation for interrupted breaks and suggesting that any loss of a full break was due to poor time management, the case argues.