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Employment Law/working off clock at home


My current new job is making us go home and study from a binder about all the things we are to know about the food menu and wine etc. customer service etc. ( only at our home) when we come to work the next day we are made to take a test and score 90 or higher or we are sent home. is this legal? we are not paid for our time.. or am I being a cry baby

p.s it's a server job


You are not being a cry baby!  The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is the law which governs what time must be considered "working time" for employees who are not exempted from its provisions.  As a server, your work is clearly non-exempt and thus you are covered by the FLSA.

In order for training time to be lawfully unpaid, regardless of whether it occurs at a class or seminar or, as in your case, involves home study, it must meet each of these criteria: (1) it is outside normal hours, (2) it is voluntary, (3) it is not job related, and (4) no other work is concurrently performed. The situation you describe fails to qualify on points 2 and 3, since it is required by the employer and is directly related to your job. Therefore, under the law you and your fellow employees are entitled to be paid for your study time.

I don't know what the atmosphere is like at your place of work, but if you are not comfortable talking to someone in management about this, I would urge you to contact the nearest office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD.)  You can find a list of their Florida offices and contact information for each at this page on the WHD web site:

Contact the nearest office and describe the situation.  The DOL can investigate and require the employer to follow the law, and it is against the law for the employer to take any negative action against you for reporting the issue.

I hope you find this helpful.  

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Frank C. Magill


I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.


30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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