My retail job in Alabama requires employees who work befor the store opens to be there 10 mins before your shift starts to let employees in all at once. Today i was 5 mins late past 7:50 am and I along with 2 other employees were locked outside til 8:55 am. Can my boss do this and should he be required to pay us for the 10 mins early ( we are not allowed to clock in till our designated time) even though we dont work till we clock in? Thank you
1 Answer from Attorneys
Yes, your boss can require you to arrive early to "get settled" and can fire you for not being ready to work at your assigned time. Getting settled would include preparing your work area, changing into a uniform, using the restroom, etc. He must, however, pay you if you are performing "work" and that time will add toward your total work time for calculating overtime. The definition of work from the Fair Labor Standards Act website is below (http://flsa.com). My best advice is to seek employment from an employer with whom you have a more amicable relationship.
If you do end up filing a complaint through Alabama's FLSA office your boss the FLSA prohibits retaliation or discrimination against an employee who brings an FLSA case; however, the FLSA does not prevent "routine hassling." Routine hassling would be acts such as changing working conditions or schedules to minimize or eliminate FLSA overtime liabilities in the future.
Q. What activities are considered "work?"
A. The courts have held that work time under the FLSA includes all time spent performing job-related activities which (a) genuinely benefit the employer, (b) which the employer "knows or has reason to believe" are being performed by an employee, and (c) which the employer does not prohibit the employee from performing. These can include activities performed during "off-the-clock" time, at the job site or elsewhere, whether "voluntary" or not.
Courts have awarded FLSA damages for "off-the-clock" time spent by employees maintaining equipment, staying late after normal shifts without "putting in" for overtime, doing job-related paperwork "at home," making and responding to job-related telephone calls, working through meal periods, and many other activities. Employees sometimes underestimate the amount of "off the clock" time they spend performing compensable tasks.
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