What to do if my employer has recently cut our breaks from 30 minutes a day down to 15 and we are not allowed to leave the premisis for any reason?

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What to do if my employer has recently cut our breaks from 30 minutes a day down to 15 and we are not allowed to leave the premisis for any reason?

I read that they don’t even have to allow us a break even though we work in 10 hour shifts. We are always threatened that if we don’t like it they will not give us a break at all. We are not allowed to eat anything while on the clock or it is grounds for loss of our job and they call it a voluntary quit. Our jobs are constantly being threatened for one thing or another. Can they do that? They will also give an employe a bad reference while trying to get a different job.

Asked on May 1, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Employers may make jobs completely awful, including to make employees quit; may threaten employee jobs constantly; and can terminate employees for even minor rules infractions. They can refuse to let employees, for example, leave the premises for the duration of the job.

However, 1) if an employee breaks a rule and is terminated, that is NOT voluntary resignation and they cannot call it that; they can legally call it termination for misconduct (violating a rule), though, which may impact unemployment eligibility. They also 2) cannot lie about why someone left employment--doing so may be defamation. However, they can give a negative reference that does not involve factual mistatements (lies), but does involve negative opinions; thus, they can legally say that someone was a bad worker, since that is an opinion, not a statement of fact.


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