Can my employer make me clock out for lunch even if I do not get to take a break?

No. Well, that is, not unless your employer plans to compensate you for the time you worked during your “break.”

Generally, an employer is free to set an employee’s work schedule. This includes an employee’s break times. Many employers have valid reasons for scheduling employees’ lunch breaks at certain times. For example, by staggering employees’ lunch breaks, an employer can ensure that there always is an employee available to answer telephone calls or to cover the business’s reception area. This is especially important for retail establishments. A retailer needs to have enough people on the floor to ensure that customers’ questions can be answered quickly and that customers can check out without waiting in long lines.

While an employer can schedule an employee’s lunch break time, the employer cannot control what an employee does during that break time. When an employee is on an unpaid break, the employer must completely relieve the employee of any work-related duties. An employer cannot force an employee to “clock out” and then require the employee to continue working during that time.

If you are a retail worker and you believe you have not received pay for the work you performed, contact the wage and hour violation attorneys at Kennedy Hodges LLP. To schedule a free consultation with one of our wage and hour lawyers, call us today, toll-free at 888-449-2068. You can also reach us by completing our online contact form.