Is it legal to withholding paychecks for unattended unpaid mandatory meetings?

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Is it legal to withholding paychecks for unattended unpaid mandatory meetings?

My current employer doesn’t pay for new hire orientation, which lasts 6 hours. Also, they have mandatory meetings that are unpaid, with signs that say paychecks will not be given if you don’t attend the meeting. Plus, if you don’t attend, they will take you off the schedule. If they find out you clocked in for the meeting they go in the time clock and delete the punch. With several people that have called off and one that quit the executive director reported them to the board for abandonment of residents because they didn’t give a full 8 hour notice. The executive director says that she will report anyone licenses if they leave without her approval so it’s harder for them to find another job. I’m wondering about the legality of these actions and if the employees have any rights, what proof and/or documentation would be needed.

Asked on July 2, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The following applies to hourly employee, not salaried--if you are salaried, your weekly salary is your only or total compensation for all work done during the week.
1) There is no such as unpaid new hire orientations: anything required by the employer for its own benefit is considered "work" and so hourly employees must be paid for the time they spend  doing it.
2) There is similarly no such thing as unpaid mandatory meetings--again, the time spent doing something, even meetings, which the employer requires is work time and must be paid.
3) It is illegal to withhold employee paycheck unless a) the employee consents (agrees) to it (such as a voluntary repayment of something the employee owes the employer) or b) there is a court order requiring it.
4) It is illegal to threaten to retaliate against employees for exercising their legal rights.
Based on what you write, it appears that there are multiple violations of labor law going on. Contact the state department of labor or speak with an employment law attorney.


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