Target Manager Sues, Says Was Fired For Working Through Lunch

An ex-Target manager is suing his former employer, accusing the retailer of firing him for working during his lunch break. Ironically, he says it was retaliation for the complaints he had made about being denied uninterrupted breaks.

The lawsuit claims he was fired after his supervisors observed him “performing work activities” while not clocked in. This violated Target’s break policies. However, the suit claims that while Target’s employees are forbidden from working off the lock, Target’s physical time clocks don’t let employees clock back in from break until after 30 minutes.

The manager claims that he was was forced to work more than 40 hours a week without receiving overtime pay and he often had to turn off the clock and then have to shut down the store.

“Target is committed to following all state and federal laws,” a Target spokesperson told Huffington Post, refraining from commenting further as the litigation is pending.

Read the lawsuit (PDF)
Target Manager Says He Was Fired ‘Ironically’ For Working Through Lunch [Huffington Post] (Thanks to Simon!)

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  1. ModerateOne says:

    why didn’t he just clock back in before working?

    • Hi_Hello says:

      can’t. system is setup so he can’t clock back in until 30 min after clocking out.

    • eturowski says:

      From above: “Target’s physical time clocks don’t let employees clock back in from break until after 30 minutes.”

    • FirePuff says:

      “Target’s physical time clocks don’t let employees clock back in from break until after 30 minutes.”

      He was probably being interrupted 10 minutes in. I’ve been there, done that. :/

    • mauispiderweb says:

      “However, the suit claims that while Target’s employees are forbidden from working off the lock, Target’s physical time clocks don’t let employees clock back in from break until after 30 minutes.”

      This – which makes no sense at all. Install some new time clocks, Target. Better yet, enter the 21st century and have your employees sign on on the store’s PCs.

      • K-Bo says:

        When I worked retail, the clock would not allow clocking back in until 30 minutes was up because law required they give us a 1/2 hour lunch.The clock was making sure we didn’t do anything we could turn around and sue the company for.

        • mauispiderweb says:

          Then it does make sense — I was wrong. You never had to clock out for your 10-15 minute breaks, right?

          • dangerp says:

            I’m sure it varies, but in California 15 minute breaks are paid time, so many companies don’t bother having you clock in/out.

        • Rebecca K-S says:

          Well, the Target I worked at had the same limitations on the time clock, despite 30 minute lunches not being the law here in Illinois.

        • fatediesel says:

          Yep, when I worked at Sears in 2002 we couldn’t clock in until the 1/2 hour was up as well. This also helped guarantee we couldn’t work over 40 hours in a week.

        • personwholives says:

          When I worked foodservice, the clock would automatically add a 30 minute break if you worked more than 6 hours. Unfortunately, I almost never got my lunch break, so I had to keep telling them to pay me for that time. Giant pain in the butt.

          • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

            In Indiana you must take a 30 minute break if you work six consecutive hours. It gets deducted no matter what. Even if you choose to work through your lunch.

        • sponica says:

          I actually had an old time punch clock at my first retail job….you know the best way to prevent working off the clock? leave the freaking store….works every time

          when I got a real job, I opted to not take meal breaks….I would just sit in my office with the door closed and eat my lunch…but I also had a job where leaving wasn’t feasible so they had to pay me for my meal breaks

        • rushevents says:

          Law didn’t require the 30 minute lunch – it does require paying OT so no early clocking in for ANYONE – even part timers just to make sure they can document said rules for any government auditor.

          Having done my time at best buy the problem was with making supervisors take work home or do administrative details off the clock – they got busted hard for that in the mid 90’s (along with many other retail co’s) and that’s when the new clocks came on the scene.

          • vivalakellye says:

            The law does require certain breaks, though. Hourly workers must be given a bathroom break every four hours they work and 30-minute breaks if their shift is 6+ hours.

            • RvLeshrac says:

              No, the law doesn’t, outside of specific occupations (Truck Driver, Pilot, Train Engineer, Ship’s Crew, Rigger). Some states do, but most (like Georgia) have no such requirements.

              You’re only given time to eat and use the bathroom because there are health risks associated with not doing those things, and the employer would be liable for any injuries due to, say, fainting from hunger.

          • tcm147 says:

            Incorrect. If you work more than 6 hours your employer is required to give you at least a 30 min lunch break Federal Law. This time is unpaid. Since they are required to allow this if you skip your lunch you could sue them for “not allowing me to have my 30 min” which is why employers require you to log out for said lunch. They are no allowed to pay you overtime if you work over 6 hours and don’t take lunch. They are responsible to cover their butts that you got your allowed time off.

        • coren says:

          In some states (mine included) you can waive the break if you want to work through it. I’ve done this before, especially on shorter shifts.

      • Belloc says:

        I don’t know about Target, but I’m not allowed to clock in earlier than 30 minutes after starting my break. There is apparently a law that states as much.

        If the law says you have to be clocked out at least 30 minutes for lunch (and assuming that other breaks are shorter, on-the-clock breaks), what need is there for a new time clock?

        • Robert Nagel says:

          Federal law does not require lunch breaks or any other kind of breaks. However, how many times has Walmart been sued for allegedly making employees work ‘off the clock”. Hence the rule to stop people from doing what they may later claim was forced behavior, allowing them to cash in on overtime the company would have never authorized.

          • Fred Garvin says:

            Federal law considers a lunch break – one of 30 minutes or more – to be a break that the employee need not be compensated for. Federal law considers shorter breaks to be compensable work hours.

            If an employee takes a lunch break, but is pulled back into work before they can complete the break, they should be paid for the break time according to federal rules.

            This manager could have refused to end their mandated break, but I bet that would have just led to a different reason for termination.

    • backinpgh says:

      Why didn’t he just not work off the clock?
      We had the same rules at Walmart. If you so much as thought about working during your break you got written up. It’s liability.

      • layton59 says:

        If TARGET wants to fire you they will find a way. The manager was d@mned if he worked on the clock or off the clock.

        TARGET is much more evil than WAL-MART could ever be. Countless people are fired on trumped up reasons whenever they approach their 10 years of employment. 10 years is when certain benefits kick in for the TARGET employees.

    • jiubreyn says:

      Didn’t read the article, huh?

  2. u1itn0w2day says:

    Irregardless of the reason working off the clock is not a wise move. Give an ignorant employer an inch and they will take 10 miles.

    The laws and rules the OP violated are there for a reason. But I do believe it’s retaliation and if it really bothered the company they would’ve clamped downed on turning off the clock and shutting down the store which I’m sure they knew was going on.

    Violation of company policy yes, equal enforcement of company policy-probably not.

    • racermd says:

      Turning off the clock then closing down the store… I think that means he was forced to clock-out then perform additional duties at the end of the day to get the store closed up for the night. If he’s being told to eliminate or reduce overtime, he shouldn’t be clocking out early. Instead, he should be starting later in the day to account for closing procedures. If his management doesn’t want that, either, they’re issuing contradictory orders. At that point, he should have been documenting every conversation he has/had with his management chain.

      …which is probably what he did and is why we’re seeing this lawsuit.

    • eturowski says:

      “Irregardless”… ack!

      Sorry… pet peeve.

      • MattSaintCool says:
        • eturowski says:

          Fair enough. Call me a purist, then.

          • witeowl says:

            Woah, woah, woah. Don’t back off so quickly. It’s marked as “nonstandard”. The word “ain’t” isn’t even marked as nonstandard.

            • eigenvector says:

              I agree. Let’s not let that word off so easily.

              “ain’t” is completely accepted in some English-speaking places, particularly in Europe. There is no other widespread contraction for “am not”. The phrase, “aren’t I?” is incorrect–we don’t usually say “are I not?”

              Similarly, “y’all” is used in place of “you all” because of the lack of distinction in the singular vs plural forms of “you”. Of course, we have to contract it to a single word.

              “Irregardless” does not make up for a lack of any word or contraction.

            • maruawe says:

              that can’t be right Ain’t has been around longer than both of us.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      *Regardless,

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Haha. Can’t even get my correction right. Yes, irregardless is a word. It is just a dumb word. Why make a new word when an old one does the trick.

  3. mauispiderweb says:

    Waiting for Vocabulary Police in 3 … 2 … 1 …

  4. Tim says:

    If your employer tells you not to do something that is perfectly legal and you do it, you might get fired.

  5. Mike Toole says:

    Target needs to implement an “open clock” for midlevel managers like this guy, so he can clock back in when he’s needed. It’s what I had when I worked for a hotel chain. The law said that I was entitled to a 30-minute break, but if I was absolutely needed on the floor, I’d be able to punch back in, even before the 30 minutes.

    This happened when I got promoted to supervisor. When I was a regular hourly guy, I had the mandatory 30 minute break, and absolutely NOBODY would cross that line. Something needed to get done, but you were on break? Too damn bad, you’re on break!

    This particular case sounds like Target wanted to get rid of him (probably because he was earning too much money) and trapped him into breaking the rules; if he’d stuck to his guns and taken his break, he probably would’ve been disciplined and fired for not solving the problem quickly enough. This sort of thing happens extremely often in retail, which is why I don’t work retail.

    • jivesukka says:

      I am sorry but your statement has so many accusations that are poorly founded it is forcing me to say something.

      You can’t say that they should have a policy that allows some people to come back from break early even though the law says you get a 30 minute lunch. You are saying the company is above the law and if they have a policy like that what is to stop them from forcing you off every break early?

      Also the statement about him making too much make me feel like you are just against Target cause of pay reasons. Your ending statement that all retail is like this also makes you appear super biased and forces me to reject your entire statement.

      • kujospam says:

        The federal Law says that if you are OFFERED a break. It must be 30 minutes at least for you not to get paid for it. So if you come back after 29 minutes. You get paid for sitting on your tush for that time. The companies do not have to offer breaks under normal employment laws, they can make you work 30 hours straight if they so work, and then fire you if you can’t do it. All sorts of crazy things, as long as they don’t violate some health , disablites, and employment laws. My advice to you is to read that federal law sign that talks about minimum wage, and you will find everything I just talked about on it.

      • Conformist138 says:

        Actually, the rules are basically that a break is a break and cannot be violated, however, if the business can show undue hardship (ie- they cannot function properly), then the rules are waived. So, when I worked in a little cafe, when there were more than two of us we HAD to take breaks. But, there were shifts where it was quiet and we’d work solo. During those periods, we were not allowed to leave the store or take off-the-clock breaks.

        My job now is exempt from rules about employee breaks because I work the graveyard shift entirely alone.

        So, some companies have positions or times where they are exempt from following break rules. A Target store manager is likely one of those people- he needs to be available, so it’s not illegal for him to not take breaks or take short breaks. But, if Target’s clock won’t let him clock back in, he’s kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place. He should have been allowed to just not clock out unless he is totally leaving the store.

  6. Tim says:

    By the way, if he was a manager, there’s a good chance he’s on salary and exempt from overtime regulations.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      Just cause you are salary doesn’t mean you can’t be paid overtime. I’m salary and I get overtime. Called Comp time and I can use it for extra days off and/or money at the end of the year.

    • Nidoking says:

      Well, that “good chance” is zero given that the lawsuit says he’s hourly and lists his hourly rates, as well as listing Target’s failure to pay overtime at time and a half as a violation of the law. You know, if you RTFLS.

    • The Lone Gunman says:

      Read the linked lawsuit paperwork. He was paid hourly.

      I have seen places that require salaried (retail) workers to clock in and out on a timekeeping system as well.

    • dudski says:

      Salaried managers probably wouldn’t be clocking in and out, though.

      If their job titles are anything like Walmart’s, there could be as many as forty employees in one store who would have “manager” somewhere in their title. Only a dozen or so (if that) would be the kind of authority figure you expect when you ask to speak to a manager, and even fewer than that would be salaried.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        The grocery store I worked at had manager’s clock in and out at least at beginning and end of shift. While not used for pay calculations, it helped keep track of the total hours people worked and scheduling, as well as metrics like revenue/hr and labor cost/hr.

    • GrayMatter says:

      The definition of “exempt” and “non-exempt” employees was changed a while ago to prevent people from getting phony supervisory titles, and then requiring them to work extra hours. Now to be “exempt” from overtime, you have to have a clear supervisory position, not just a title and a weekly salary.

      HOWEVER–the employer can require you to be there certain hours, and to clock in and out. That very requirement automatically makes you “non-exempt” as an “exempt” employee does not have to keep regular hours, but rather works sufficiently to complete tasks.

  7. samonela says:

    They would regularly make us work during our breaks when I was at Hollywood Video. You “weren’t a team player” if you didn’t. When heat started coming down on them for it from corporate (not discipline mind you….just heat), they then required that you clock out for your break, but be on standby to be called back if it got really busy. But DO NOT clock back in until your designated break time is officially over…then just take a few minutes to yourself later on to make up the difference.

    Being an 18 year old college kid, I knew what they were doing was illegal, but I didn’t think I could do or say anything about it without losing my job…especially since corporate seemed to turn a blind eye to it.

    So fast forward a to few years later after I had long finished school and was well into my career that I get a letter in the mail about a class action suit against Hollywood brought on by some employees in Southern California. I got $75 out of it!

  8. dolemite says:

    Nothing new here. Routinely corporate demands x amount of duties be done, but they cut associate hours, so managers end up working until 2 am taking stock or doing stuff that they can’t get done in a normal work day. I had a friend at Cato that would bring her family in and they’d work until 3 am when new shipments came in, doing inventory. She was allowed 1 associate and 1 manager in the store at any time, and there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to get it all done.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      This. I worked for a mall nut and coffee stand as the “store manager” for six months or so while I was in my late 20s. The owner refused to put rubber mats down by the drink and ice machines. Naturally the floors were always wet and I was the one who tripped and broke my arm (fortunately my left one). It made Thanksgiving and Christmas difficult to do, but I busted my butt one-handed and turned in record sales for the period. At the end of December, I was required to take inventory. I was NOT allowed to bring in help and I was NOT allowed to ask an associate to help me. I could NOT start my count before close of business on December 31, and I was not allowed to open late on January 1. Inventory involved taking the approximate weight of every item in the cramped stockroom, which also meant that I had to climb up and down ladders holding heavy bags. I worked until the end of the day on December 31, left my keys in the register, and walked off the job.

      • stevoisonfire says:

        Uh you broke your arm on the job…due to employer’s negligence…and you were worried about taking inventory? Not that I am one for lawsuits or legal action but that clearly sounds like a case for workman’s comp (especially since it effected your ability to work). You should have been getting paid to sit on the couch and enjoy your vacation.

        • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

          As the “store manager”, I was afraid that if I brought it to the attention of the authorities, I would be the one held responsible, despite the fact that I had no authority to make purchases for the store and wasn’t paid enough to afford to buy them out of my own pocket. I was sure hiring a lawyer would cost money.

          I did tell the owner I was unable to do the inventory. His response was, “I’m not going to do it. It’s your responsibility to do it and you are not allowed to ask anyone to stay late to help you.” He wound up doing it himself anyway, I heard.

          • stevenpdx says:

            That’s just bad business practice. Anyone who has a financial interest in the outcome of an inventory should not be responsible for the counting of the inventory. It should be done by a neutral party.

  9. kidstechno says:

    When I worked at Target they were very strict about not working on your breaks/lunches and yes the timeclock did prevent you from punching in earlier but sometimes there was only one manager on duty and if he was needed, you would pretty much have to respond. I guess it boils down to he said/she said. But for OP it might be a wakeup call. Target went to hell couple years back and after I was passed up for promotion after working there 8 years by a guy who previously quit and some dude whose only experience was building bikes, then being told by our new 20-something store manager that for whatever reason Target likes to hire from outside of the company and not promote within, I got the hell out of dodge and couldn’t be happier.

  10. dudski says:

    “According to his lawsuit, Kellner had a different schedule to adjust to for each week of the month, his shift switching between mornings and evenings and his days off constantly changing. None of the schedules cited in the lawsuit offered two consecutive days off.”

    And?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Yeah, totally. Boo hoo, the manager has to work similar hours to the floor staff? Pardon me while I call my mommy.

    • RedOryx says:

      It’s been awhile since I worked retail, but I guarantee I very rarely had two days off in a row. True, I was a floor staff, but I have a friend who is a manager at the same bookstore chain and she has the same scheduling, too.

  11. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I cannot fill out my time at the end of the week with “no lunch” or I don’t hear the end of it.. Something about if we are audited and they see a “no lunch’ they’ll have to do an investigation as to why an employee didn’t take their lunch…. because, as we know, legally employers must give an employee a lunch break in most situations.

  12. SmokeyBacon says:

    At my office (not government, just a regular company) we just started using the timeclock in Augus, and we are required to clock in and out for lunch – it is input into the timeclock system how long we get (30 or 60 minutes) and we have been told absolutely no working during that time (we aren’t even allowed to sit at our desks and eat). And while it is physically possible to clock back in early, if we clock in more than 4 minutes early (or 4 minutes late) we get a “point” on our record and with 4 points it affects your next pay raise (and they are laughable already). We are required to have that lunch time during the day (I think it is something like within 5 1/2 hours of clocking in) – you cannot do work through lunch and leave early (leave more than 5 minutes early and that is a point) for like a doctors appointment or something (so you are still working a full 8 hours that day).So the fact that he got in trouble for working off the clock isn’t a shock to me, though being fired for it for what sounds like a first offense sounds like they just wanted to get rid of him.

    And yes, the system we have has been known to give me panic attacks if I get stuck in nasty traffic in the morning (which is extremely rare – there are times I barely even see cars for like half the trip) because of course, clock in more then 5 minutes late and that is a point on your record.

    • verymegan says:

      I worked at a job once where the penalties for clocking in more than three minutes late were worse than the penalties for calling in, so if you got stuck in traffic, you were actually better off calling in and saying you weren’t coming in than working your shift. It was ridiculous, but true.

      • BeezleB says:

        How about where I work where you get the whole point experience for being late or calling off plus the added “benefit” of them forcing you to take/use a vacation day that you have earned if you call off? I think it is vaguely illegal and I don’t know what the policy is if you don’t have any vacation time left or if you are a part-time or new hire without any vacation time.

  13. scottydog says:

    At Denny’s here in California, once clocked in, if it is time for a lunch break the system will not let you process any orders until you have taken said break. It is completely automatic.

  14. El-Brucio says:

    I love their weasel reply.

    “Target is committed to following all state and federal laws,”

    Yeah, I’m committed to doing small amounts of regular cleaning every day so I don’t have to do it all at once on the weekend, yet strangely enough….

  15. DeeJayQueue says:

    I worked at Target a few years ago.
    • There is an entire chain of “management.” There’s department leads, then hardside/softside leads, then floor leads, then assistant manager, then store manager. Everyone except for the assistant and above were hourly. So even though you were in a supervisory role, or referred to as a “manager” it just meant that you ran the electronics department during your shift… there’s really not much extra responsibility to it.

    • The clock won’t let you punch back in before :30 once you take a break. The store I worked at was pretty good about letting you have your whole break, but I was just the lowest-level peon with no responsibility. I imagine that the upper-tier management has significantly more on their plate.

    In lots of other retail jobs I had they had that attitude of “clock out and keep going” (BB&B I’m looking at you) and you weren’t seen as a team player or someone who was worth the pay raise or extra duties unless you worked your ass to the bone. I told them several times they could have it one way or the other. I was happy to work as long as they wanted me to, but they were going to pay me. I’m not going to clock out and then work another 6 hours to get the POG done just because the store doesn’t have the payroll hours this week. But if they can’t pay me, I won’t be there. This didn’t go over well, but as I kept reminding my manager, If you consistently don’t get the things done that the DM wants done, and you keep reminding him it’s because you only have 750 hours for the week’s payroll and the job can’t physically be completed, eventually he’ll get the point.
    I didn’t last long at that place. That’s what I get for trying to roll the shit back up the hill.

    • MrEvil says:

      In my experience: most retail managers are more interested in kissing ass than telling the higher-ups what is realistic. And most District Managers have a real need to get their ass kissed for some reason.

      Good Riddance is all I have to say.

  16. SisterMaryPollyEsther says:

    Manager typically means “on a salary,” so I’m not buying the “Company forced me to work off the clock” argument. Some companies simply require their managers to punch a clock to ensure they are taking meals and breaks and not working an unreasonable amount of hours. If the guy is working thru a meal or “off the clock,” it’s because he hasn’t mastered the art of time management. Some managers figure this out thru trial and error (and the occasional meltdown). Others don’t: “I have so much to do and I am the only one that can do it right and the Company doesn’t appreciate me …” Wah. Dude needs to get his poop in a group and quit blaming the “Company” for his professional shortcomings.

  17. proliance says:

    Isn’t one of the perks of being a manager not having to punch a time card?

  18. FrugalFreak says:

    so he is doing what the complaint was about before?

    Yep, Target is covering their own fanny in case an employee works anyways and uses no lunch in complaint or suit.

  19. kungfu71186 says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with him being fired for working while off the clock. It’s the law and target could get in trouble for this. Now if they made him work over 40 without overtime, then yes he should sue for that. Just like if they gave him no breaks, then he should sue for that.

  20. maruawe says:

    I believe the X manager As I have seen this in person. target just does not like getting caught screwing over their employees…….One manager that I worked with put in 50-60 hours a week and got paid for forty

  21. CarlS says:

    If he’s a manager, he’s supervisory and should not be required to use a time clock. If he’s required to use a time clock, he’s not supervisory and is entitled to overtime. Giving someone a title like “manager” does not, according to federal rules, make someone exempt from labor compensation law.

  22. andyg8180 says:

    Best Buy is the same way… they do this because of state laws protecting workers… Ive seen plenty of people fired in my time based on that stupid rule… its wrong and very vague… So lets not just blame target, its many other big chain stores with this rule… good for you for standing up…