Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
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Food processing companies accused of denying workers breaks

Employees in Nevada are entitled to meal and restroom breaks during the course of their employment. Unfortunately, there may be companies that take advantage of their workers and fail to allow them the breaks they need and deserve. Denying employees of their right to have breaks during their shifts is not only uncomfortable and unhealthy, but it may open the door to an employment lawsuit. Therefore, it is imperative for business owners to ensure their management is aware of company break policies and allows employees to take care of their meal and hygiene needs in a fair and reasonable manner.

In a recent report, Oxfam America claimed four U.S. poultry processing plants were negligent in providing workers the basics in restroom breaks. Representatives of the company said that after interviewing poultry employees over three years, they had come to the conclusion that employees at these plants were unable to take restroom breaks without fear of discipline, including termination. Some workers were said to wear adult diapers to work, to accidentally relieve themselves at their stations or to refrain from drinking liquids in order to keep from having to go to the bathroom. If these allegations were true, they would cause a health risk to any employee, especially those with certain medical conditions. Three out of the four poultry plants denied the claims, while the fourth refused to comment.

It is understood that when employees take frequent or lengthy breaks, it could affect productivity. However, denying workers their basic human needs not only violates employment laws, but can create a working environment that is counterproductive to employee morale.

Source: NBC News, “Poultry Workers, Denied Bathroom Breaks, Wear Diapers: Oxfam Report,” Elizabeth Chuck, May 12, 2016

John P. Aldrich
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