I was recently contacted regarding a federal lawsuit alleging that Houston MethodistSM deducted 30 minutes each shift for breaks whether the nurses took them in whole, in part or not at all. There are more than 20 similar lawsuits throughout the U.S.
I informally polled nurses nationwide to find out just how widespread this legal issue really is. RNs overwhelmingly responded that this has been happening for decades. In the National Nurses’ Stress Survey many RNs commented about not getting breaks and lunch at their hospital RN jobs. But I was shocked to learn from the informal poll that registered nurses everywhere are getting their pay docked 30 minutes each shift for lunch breaks they don’t get to take.
Even worse, RNs risk getting written up if they don’t take a lunch break and if they do take a break, there is no coverage and their patients are at risk. While there is a mechanism to report not being able to take lunch, the word on the street from RNs is that such reporting is viewed as complaining. Administration calls it a “time management” issue. Some nurses simply clock out for thirty minutes, keep working and then clock back in. Many nurses view no lunch in a 12-hour shift as part of the job to avoid discipline from their RN supervisors.
It’s time for this draconian practice to stop. Nurses should not have to sacrifice their own health and well-being for hospital profits. I like to say We Are Nurses and We Can Do Anything! ® but we shouldn’t have to kill ourselves to do it. That’s just one more reason why legal nurse consulting is a popular career alternative for nurses looking to leave punishing 12-hour shifts and their hospital RN jobs behind them.
I’m Just Sayin’
P.S. Comment and share whether you believe no breaks (bathroom or otherwise) and no lunch is draconian or should be accepted as part of every RN’s job.