Washington State Supreme Court Orders Overtime for Missed Breaks

Washington's highest court has ruled that missed paid rest breaks count as "hours worked" that trigger overtime obligations for employers. In Washington State Nurses Association v. Sacred Heart Medical Center, 2012 Wash. LEXIS 748 (Oct. 25, 2012), a nurse and her union brought a class action on behalf of 1,200 registered nurses, seeking overtime pay for missed rest breaks under the Washington Minimum Wage Act (WMWA). According to the court, employers must add missed rest break time to their employees' hours actually worked, and pay an overtime premium for any resulting hours over 40 in a workweek. Thus, an employee who works 40 hours in a workweek and misses a required 10-minute paid rest break is owed compensation at the overtime rate of one and one half times the regular rate for the missed 10-minute rest break. To learn more about the decision, please see Littler's ASAP, Washington State Supreme Court Orders Overtime Payment for Missed Breaks, by Daniel Thieme and Breanne Sheetz.

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