Company must pay after making workers clock out for bathroom breaks

A Pennsylvania company that publishes business newsletters was ordered to pay $1.75 million in back pay to employees who were forced to clock out to take short breaks to use the bathroom.

A federal judge gave American Future Systems, which does business as Progressive Business Publications, until Thursday to submit its payment plan.

The company will have to give back pay and other damages to about 6,000 employees who worked from July 2009 to July 2013 in 14 offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer.

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"They haven't come into compliance yet, so damages will grow," Adam Welsh, an attorney with the Department of Labor’s Philadelphia office, told the Philadelphia Enquirer.

The company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act because the employees, who were paid $7.25 an hour, were not earning minimum wage because of the requirement to clock out for short breaks, according to the lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor in 2012.

The company has argued that it is not required to pay employees for short breaks. The Fair Labor Standards Act does not require companies to offer short personal breaks, of about 20 minutes. However, if an employer offers those breaks, it must pay workers during that time.

Sarah Bouchard, an attorney for the company, declined comment, according to the Philadelphia Enquirer.

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