Chicopee, MA asked in Employment Law for Texas

Q: Not getting paid for full shift

My daughter works in fast food and her hours have been cut. She was scheduled to work a 3 hour shift but was told by management if there were no customers she had to punch out and punch back in when one arrived, thus not getting paid for the full 3 hour shift. She had to sit at a table in the lobby while punched out. Is this legal?

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2 Lawyer Answers

A: Your daughter may have a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Whether this type of "waiting time" is compensable time depends on the particular circumstances. When an employee is "engaged to wait," the time spent waiting must be paid. If an employee is "waiting to be engaged," this is not work time and does not need to be paid. The Department of Labor gives the example of a secretary who is "engaged to wait" when she is required to remain at her desk and reads a book while waiting for a dictation. It sounds like your daughter is being "engaged to wait" as well, and should be paid for this time. You and your daughter should contact an employment attorney in your area as soon as possible to discuss the details of your daughter's situation.

A: The time spent waiting for customers is time that must be compensated. The employers failure to compensate for this time could result in violations of state and federal minimum wage laws and overtime laws.

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