Is it legal to force someone to take an unpaid break if they have worked for less than 8 hours?

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Is it legal to force someone to take an unpaid break if they have worked for less than 8 hours?

I was forced to take a break even after I calmly told my manager that I did not need one. He said that we all are going to start taking breaks because he wants us to be “relaxed” when really everyone knows it’s because the owner is having money problems being that it is an independent business. She’s upping prices and cutting people’s hours.

Asked on May 20, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is legal. The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will".  This means that basically the employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements and revoke benefits as they see fit.  In turn, an employee can work for an employer, or not, their choice. 

Exceptions to the above would be if there is a stated company policy covering this, or there is a union/employment agreement that governs, or this situation has arisen due to some type of discrimination.


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