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Amazon worker files suit over unpaid overtime and missed breaks

The devil is often in the details -- especially when it comes to the law.

That's essentially what's driving the complaint filed against an Amazon fulfillment center in Sacramento. The employer is accused of regularly scheduling employees for 10-hour work shifts -- or even longer.

However, that isn't the issue. The issue is that the employees are expected to punch the time clock in one area and then travel 10 to 15 minutes to their workplace -- without compensation. That time is also not being counted toward their shifts, including when they go to punch the clock for breaks. That time adds up.

It means that employees impacted by the issue are working more than 10-hour shifts. That entitles them, by state law, not only to overtime they aren't receiving but also to a third paid rest break. It also entitles employees to two unpaid meal breaks.

While many of these employees are only working 10 minutes or so past their 10-hour limit, state law requires the employer to compensate them with pay for one hour per day for each day that they were denied their third rest period.

That could add up to significant losses if the employees are successful in pressing their claim -- especially since the attorneys who have filed the suit on behalf of a single employee are asking for class action status. If that action is allowed, the employer will be on the hook for all employees who have been similarly treated.

Issues like these are why it's often wise to run internal policies by your legal advisers. It's far easier and cheaper to avoid employment litigation in the first place by having good policies in place or by taking employee complaints seriously once an issue is brought to your attention.

Source: ABC 10, "Amazon worker claims breaks, overtime pay denied at Sacramento center, files lawsuit," Alexa Renee, KXTV, Nov. 30, 2017

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