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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    2

    Default Employer Took Breaks Away from Employees

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Missouri. Non-profit nursing home recently posted in public view the following memo:
    "Effective immediately the nursing staff will only be getting a lunch break due to the fact that some of the nursing staff are taking additional breaks to go out and smoke. Charge nurses may not give permission to have a break other than their lunch break." Is this legal? Evening aides will be working from 2pm til 7pm without a break. Hand book says two 10 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch break.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    24,357

    Default Re: Breaks Taken Away

    Yes, this is legal. Neither Federal nor Missouri law requires any breaks at all. If you are getting a lunch break, you are still getting more than the law requires. It is the rare handbook that is written in such a way that the employer cannot make changes at will.

    I'm not saying I agree with a no-break policy. I'm saying a no-break policy is legal in your, and many other, states.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    2

    Default Re: Breaks Taken Away

    What about stat 290.145, or creating hostile work environment? This punishes everyone and insured everyone, not just other employees knows.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Breaks Taken Away

    Quote Quoting bjjcmt
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    What about stat 290.145, or creating hostile work environment? This punishes everyone and insured everyone, not just other employees knows.
    How about no.

    290.145 deals with activities off the clock and a hostile work environment is something apparently very different than you think it is

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Default Re: Breaks Taken Away

    The term, Hostile Work Environment, has a very specific meaning under the law and this is not even close to meeting that definition.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Lake Chapala
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    3,008

    Default Re: Breaks Taken Away

    Quote Quoting jk
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    ...a hostile work environment is something apparently very different than you think it is
    To forestall any arguments from the OP, here's what a Hostile Work Environment (HWE) is as defined by law:

    A HWE is a workplace where an employee or group of employees is experiencing harassment and/or discrimination based specifically and directly on protected characteristics like race, gender, religion, age and/or disability.

    OP, the information you've provided does not indicate that this new no-breaks policy was implemented as a result of you and your fellow employees' protected characteristics.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    7,861

    Default Re: Breaks Taken Away

    Quote Quoting bjjcmt
    View Post
    What about stat 290.145, or creating hostile work environment? This punishes everyone and insured everyone, not just other employees knows.
    Neither of those apply here. Missouri statute section 290.145 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee “because the individual uses lawful alcohol or tobacco products off the premises of the employer during hours such individual is not working for the employer.” So if the employer took adverse action against the employees for smoking at home, for example, that would violate the statute. Taking action because nurses are taking unauthorized smoke breaks during work hours, on the other hand, is not prohibited.

    As far as hostile work environment goes, that has a very particular meaning in the law and isn’t just anything an employee thinks is unfair or doesn’t like. Hostile work environment is a form of illegal harassment in the work place under federal law that is based on the employee’s race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age (if the employee is at least age 40 or older), disability, or genetic test information. So, for example, if an employee was experiencing harassment in the work place related his race that would be illegal. An isolated incident of a racial joke or insult would not be enough, however. As the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains on its harassment page:

    Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

    Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance.

    Here, the employer’s action has nothing to do with the employees’ race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, or genetic test information. Thus, however unfair you may think it to be, it is not illegal harassment or a hostile work environment as those terms are used in employment. While I think the employer’s choice in taking away breaks as a solution to the problem is unwise, it is not illegal.

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