Several questions

My employer is under the impression that as long as she is paying you for your lunch period she can require you to work. Specifically she allows you enough time to eat a sandwich, but then expects you to be back to work. There are no break times or formal lunch periods. It is a retail sales environment.

Does Ohio recognize constructive discharge for employers with less than 14 employees? I am still employed.

1 answer  |  asked Jan 1, 2009 7:41 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
An employer does not have to provide breaks, except for minors.

Surprisingly, neither Ohio nor federal law mandate breaks. In theory, an employer can require employees to work 24/7 and then terminate them for absenteeism when they stop showing up. In reality, however, because federal and state overtime laws make hours worked in excess of 40 expensive, employers to voluntarily limit normal schedules to 40 hours. This leave employers free, however, to force you to work through lunch and without breaks, or to allow only limited breaks.

Importantly, your employer must pay you during breaks of 30 minutes or less, and must also allow you to come and go as you please if it does not pay for breaks of 30 minutes or more. In your case, however, it appears that your employer is doing that.

Constructive discharge refers to terms and conditions of employment that would force a reasonable employee to quit. In the eyes of the law, a constructive discharge is the same as an actual termination and would trigger the rights and benefits available to an employee who is fired, as opposed to one who voluntarily quit. There is no limit to the number of employees required for a constructive discharge. If a sole proprietor forces her only employee to quit by cutting her pay in half while increasing her hours and adding awful duties, for example, the employee could quit and could probably still collect unemployment compensation benefits.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jan 2, 2009 10:00 AM [EST]

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