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Short Breaks for Telemarketers May Be Compensable Time

WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has filed suit against Progressive Business Solutions for violations of the minimum wage and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Progressive is a Pennsylvania company that creates business information publications and sells those to various entities using telephone sales representatives. These sales representatives work in ten call centers owned and operated by Progessive across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Jersey.

Compensable Time

The DOL initiated an investigation of Progressive’s policies regarding breaks. Progressive had implemented a written compensation policy indicating that sales representatives will not be paid for personal breaks. If a representative is not on an active sales call, recording the results of a call, engaged in training or administrative activities, or engaged in other work-related activities, then he or she is required to log-off the company’s computer system. Sales representatives are only paid for the time that they are logged into the timekeeping system. Additionally, the company could not produce log-on and log-off records from several call centers for various time spans during the period relevant to the lawsuit.

After concluding its investigation, the DOL notified Progressive that breaks of twenty minutes or less were compensable and that Progressives policy of not paying employees for those breaks resulted in FLSA minimum wage violations. Additionally, the DOL informed progressive that its failure to produce log-on and log-off records was a violation of its FLSA recordkeeping obligations.

Twenty Minutes or Less for Breaks

According to the federal district court, FLSA was means to be a remedial measure to improve working conditions and reduce unfair treatment of employees. Employees have always taken short work breaks, with pay, for a variety of non-work purposes. While FLSA does not require an employer to provide its employees with rest periods or breaks, if it decides to permit short breaks, the time is compensable hours worked. According to the court, this rule undoubtedly protects employee health and well-being by not dissuading employees from taking such breaks when needed to visit the bathroom, stretch legs, get a cup of coffee, or simply clear the head. Therefore, the court decided to impose a bright-line rule that breaks lasting twenty minutes or less are compensable.

The compensability or hours spent at work remains to be one of the more difficult issues in wage compliance. If you feel that you have been deprived of your wages because of your employer’s conclusion regarding the compensability of time you spent at work, you should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine the best option. We will also determine you should file a lawsuit against your employer. Call our experienced attorneys today.

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