Workers at a Florida jail have filed wage and hour claims against their employer, alleging they are unable to take proper breaks because the facility is so poorly run. Workers at the jail say they are afraid to leave the premises for lunch and other breaks because of the dangers at the workplace. The specific allegations are that they are afraid inmates will overrun other guards at the facility because of poor safety controls.
Deputies at the facility work for eight and a half hours each day, but they are only paid for eight of those hours because 30 minutes is set aside as a lunch break. Many deputies contend, however, that they are expected to still be on duty during those 30 minutes. They think they should be paid for that work. The suit, which has recently proceeded to trial, was initially filed in 2006.
Official reports show a vast number of deputies are said to have worked the overtime every day without compensation since 2004. As a result, the potential damages awarded in the case now eclipses the $10 million mark. About 750 deputies employed at the Pinellas County Jail could receive settlement or judgment awards from the prison system.
Attorneys for the workers describe the environment as thoroughly unpleasant. Not only are deputies expected to remain on-call during their lunch breaks, but they are expected to tolerate abuse, hot temperatures and overcrowding because of the prison system’s poor operations. Most deputies simply “gobble” their lunch at their work stations rather than take the half-hour break, which would shockingly require them to eat with inmates in the mess hall.
Wage and hour law disputes often occur when employers fail to fully compensate employees for their work. If you think you have been a victim of wage and hour law violations, consider seeking the assistance of a qualified employment attorney to help you learn more about your options.
tbo.com, “Trial focuses on Pinellas jail deputies’ lunch breaks” Stephen Thompson, Jul. 16, 2013