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A recent Appeals Court case issued a ruling that an employee who was undertaking lunch time work should have been credited with overtime compensation when she worked over forty hours per week.    According to the company in Vitali v. Reit Management & Research, L.L.C., 88 Mass. App. Ct. 99 (2015), a method of recording lunch time work was provided when the company installed a new system of time recording.  Vitali claimed that she accrued overtime that was not credited by the system in place to keep track of the employee hours.

The defendant in this case was paid by the hour and was to be paid overtime in excess of forty hours as required by G.L. c. 151 s. 1A. Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. s 207(a)(1) an employee must prove both that he incurred unpaid overtime work, and the employer “had actual or constructive knowledge that he was working overtime.”  Inquires by Vitali as well as other employees regarding the use of the system should have provided enough knowledge that many employees were performing work during their lunch breaks and that the employees did not understand the process for recording lunch time work.   The court stated that the instructions provided by the company were “contradictory, confusing, and incomplete”.

When the company started using the new system it did not require employees to record lunch time work.  Further inquiries did nothing to assist the employees on what procedure to use to document their lunch hours.  The court reversed the Superior Courts decision based on the company’s “constructive knowledge that the employees were undertaking lunch time work that should have been credited toward overtime.”    The court went on to state that “the company went ahead and assumed in its favor that employees were not performing any such work except where they separately reported it through a process that Vitali was never trained in, or even told to use.

Related information can be found at Massachusetts Law About Overtime.

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