Can my managers lock everyone inside until they feel it is convenient to let us go for the day?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my managers lock everyone inside until they feel it is convenient to let us go for the day?

At the end of the day, when the last customer leaves, my managers locks the exit door, and lowers the security gate. At this point, all employees are now locked inside until they’re done working. Our software requires a manager’s fingerprint to let us clock out for the day. That’s a challenge in itself. Upon getting the OK to clock out, we are not always let out of the building right away.We wait anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes for a manager to walk up to the front door and let us out. It doesn’t sound like much. However, when you are off the clock, you should be allowed to leave the building. Period. This can’t be legal. How are they allowed to do this?

Asked on July 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The answer is, they are NOT allowed to do this:
1) They cannot physically restrain you from leaving--that is a criminal act and almost certainly a violation of various workplace safety and firecode provisions. They can lock the door to keep others out, but any employee must be able to open it from the inside if they want or necessary. If the won't stop doing this, contact the municipal fire department and building department, and/or OHSA, about the situation.
2) While your employer can tell you that you will be fired if you leave before being dismissed (and then follow-through and fire you if you do leave), the time they force you to wait at work IS considered work time (because you are being held at work for the employer's benefit, at their decision) and so hourly employees must be paid for that time even if it's after shift end, including overtime as applicable.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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