Can my employer make me leave early to avoid OT?

When we are too busy and have to work through our lunch break yet our employer makes us leave early so that they don’t have to pay any overtime. Is this legal? I work for a county hospital.

Asked on May 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

MN law stipulates that “sufficient time” to eat a meal must be provided to all workers who work for 8 or more consecutive hours. This break may generally be unpaid if it is at least 30 minutes long, however only if the employee is completely relieved of their duties. If the employee must do any job duties during the meal break, it would not qualify as an unpaid meal break. At this point, you may want to contact your state's department of labor and/or consult directly with a local employment ;aw attorney.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they can do this: employers, not employees, set work hours and schedules (unless there is a written employment contract specifiying hours; if so, the employer must honor its terms) and may change, adjust, modify, etc. such hours and schedules at will. An employer is allowed to have an employee work more earlier in the day or week, then send the emloyee home earlier to avoid having them work overtime.

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