back to article Imagine being charged to take a lunch break... even if you didn't. Welcome to the world of these electronics assembly line workers

Tyco Electronics – a multi-billion-dollar manufacturer of sensors, connectors, and other rugged equipment for defense, aerospace, automotive, IT, and similar industries – has agreed to cough up millions to workers who claimed they were stiffed over lunchtime pay. The multinational, which last year banked $2.6bn profit from $ …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    WTF?

    Wow...

    "The highest amount paid to any individual will be $4,720, according to this latest settlement. Wilson will receive an additional $7,000 as a reward for bringing and pursuing the case over five years. The lawyers bringing the case have agreed not to charge more than $1.65m for their services."

    So the guy who raised the suit makes just under $11,720 and the lawyers trouser 1.65 Mil.

    I chose the wrong career.

    1. Drew Scriver

      Re: Wow...

      If it bothers you that the lawyers are getting $1.65M you may indeed have chosen the wrong career.

      However, consider that he worked on the case since 2014 and probably employed legal aides and other staff. In addition, he would have had the cost of other overhead.

      The employees had the option of opting out of the class action and file their own lawsuit - they all agreed that this was the best option for them.

      Sure, most likely the lawyers are making out well. Without them, though, most likely the employees would get nothing.

      1. jgarbo
        Flame

        Re: Wow...

        Yeah, pity the lawyers. When I them homeless on the sidewalk begging with their dobermans I always tossed them a crust of old hamburger. The dogs, that is.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Wow...

      $1.65m for 5 years is $330k a year, probably split up among multiple lawyers, legal aides etc. Sure, this case is probably not a full-time job for them, and the lawyers DID make a lot of money on this, but that's their costs. It sucks for the plaintiffs to have to spend so much money to secure justice, and maybe the lawyers weren't really that good to justify the big payout if they got such a small settlement for the employees. Or alternatively, they had to accept a small payout because the legal position of the employees wasn't really that strong.(ie the picture is not so black and white as described in the article).

      If there's a villain here it's clearly not the employees' lawyers but Tyco - they were using abusive practices to start with, they didn't immediately right the wrong, and they fought tooth and nail for 5 years against the suit instead of just paying up. Not only are they villainous, they're also stupid. Their final payout was 4.9m instead of the 7.25m calculated by the plaintiffs, so they 'saved' $2.35m. BUT if the legal cost for the plaintiffs was 1.65m, I'm fairly sure the legal costs for the defence were also at least that much, and probably well over 2m. So they saved themselves peanuts (or possibly nothing at all) in exchange for 5 years of litigation, continuing bad blood with their employees, and some terrible publicity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not only are they villainous, they're also stupid.

        Perhaps they banked on the fact that the guy would either back off as soon as he saw the estimate of costs (total ruin) should he lose the case, or failing that, would run out of funds by the end. Either of which seems very likely, when you have a multi-billion business set against a non-billionaire individual. And the business would have been emboldened by a previous case they had won.

        Net result of the case? Small change to them and hardly any incentive to improve behaviour in the future. Scummy business, from start to finish anyway.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Luxury!

    "workers claimed they were stiffed over lunchtime pay."

    Luxury!

    There were 150 of us working in a small shoebox in the middle of the road … when we came home dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Luxury!

      Yes, I get your reference...still getting a down vote

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        Re: Luxury!

        I agree as it appears do others, no need to have remained anonymous. Not really the article for such frivolity, it's a depressing read.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Luxury!

      Shoebox?

      You lucky bas***d, when I were a kid, the walls in our house were so thin, we used to dip our bread in nextdoors gravy.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: Luxury!

        You had bread?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Luxury!

          Every one of you who thinks you are being just so amusing by rehashing the Four Yorkshiremen sketch on this particular occasion should stop and actually think for a minute about the shitty practices carried out by this company at the literal expense of their down-trodden workers. A decent lunch break should be a right for every worker.

          And you should take a further minute to stop and think and be glad about how workers' rights are better in more civilised countries, such as the EU (currently, and hopefully continuing to be, including the UK), and how the USA is sadly not a country which any of us should be looking to as an example of employment good practices. Without their workers, no company is anything, and it behoves a civil society that companies should operate in a dignified and equitable fashion.

      2. jgarbo
        Meh

        Re: Luxury!

        Tres posh, mon brave. You had bread, nextdoors had gravy! When I was a lad dinner was a look but no lick at picture of a chicken. Soup was a wave of the picture over boiling water. A bit bland but we got used to it.

  3. Jou (Mxyzptlk)

    The lawyers did get their share

    don't worry about those lawyers, they did get their share of "only 1.65 million" from the class action lawsuit. That is how class action lawsuit works, they get a part of what the are fighting for. But it isn't regulated how much they can get. Apart from that Europe NEEDS class action lawsuits, maybe limited to 20% or 10% or what they fight for, depending on the amount instead of completely unregulated...

    1. Drew Scriver

      Re: The lawyers did get their share

      If it's limited to 10-20% they will just increase the amount they'll demand from the defendant and they'll end up only filing suit if the company they're after has deep enough pockets. Plus, the higher the amounts the longer the process tends to take.

      Also, keep in mind that European courts tend to award a pittance compared to US courts. Ten percent of those already low amounts may not cover the legal firms expenses.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Flame

    "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

    Sorry, your employees having lunch is not a cost, it is what allows them to continue working. Fuck that mentality. We're in the 21st century now, grow up already. You employ human beings, not robots.

    1. ortunk
      Terminator

      Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

      hoping to upgrade to honda robots ASAP

      1. Grease Monkey

        Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

        When I was paid hourly I was only paid for the hours I worked. So that was 9am - 5:30pm, 4:30pm on Friday. With an hour lunch break that meant we were paid for 36 hours a week. The standard and legal way to calculate hourly wages in the UK.

        However that's not the issue here. The issue here is that people who opted out of their lunch break were paid on the basis that they had taken it. In other words they were paid for half an hour less than they actually worked.

        Another however is European law. A similar case would be interesting in the EU. IIRC the working time directive states that your employer must allow you to take a minimum of half an hour out of the first six hours, and fifteen minutes out of every subsequent three hours. Which is all good for your health. It also states that you MUST take those breaks. So if your employer rewards you for working through your lunch break in the EU then they are breaking the law. Even if you chose to work through your lunch without being asked to do so this would still be the case.

        1. AK565

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          Most places in the US have similar laws. It is unlikely the company was not breaking at least some of them.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages" seems an odd say of saying "not paid for the time they were not working". "the cost ... taken from wages" sounds like they've got an on-site canteen, the workers don't have to have over cash for the food, it is paid for by taking it out of their wage packet. I've had a job like that where the purchase of my bus pass was "automatically taken from [my] wages".

        3. rmason Silver badge

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          Pretty standard for salary workers too.

          Regardless of me taking my break or not i'm expected to be here for 8 hours and am paid the equivalent of 7.5 hours of it.

          1. David Jackson 1

            Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

            True, but if I work through my lunch hour and doing so is authorised, I get paid overtime.

            Obviously, if I work through my lunch break and I'm neither going to be paid overtime, nor get time back in lieu, then I'm an idiot (and my employer would not expect me to do either of those anyway).

            1. Jason 24

              Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

              At one company I worked for we were moving all the IT equipment to a new office over a very long weekend.

              Come pay day I found that my overtime was docked by 0.5 hours each day.

              I questioned it and was told "well you must have stopped for lunch".

              Firstly, no we didn't really, shoved a quick sandwich down and that was it. I am here until it's done, I've no incentive to down tools for any period of time.

              Secondly, we're busting our balls for you over a weekend and you want to whinge over half an hour?

              They did eventually correct it and pay us for the entire time (which on a weekend is from the moment I leave my house until the moment I get home, you are paying me for travel).

              1. Bernard M. Orwell

                Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

                "(which on a weekend is from the moment I leave my house until the moment I get home, you are paying me for travel)."

                That's an interesting one. If your employer has chosen to make your working day start when you leave your house then I'll doff my cap to them as being fairly progressive. There is no law at the moment that compels them to pay that travel time *unless* your job specifically involves travelling to customer sites for appointments (such as a sales rep. or field service engineer might). You are entitled to be paid travelling between appointments/sites of course, but "normal commute" is exempted.

                This is currently being challenged in the EU that, during your commute, you are "at your employes disposal" and thus "in work", but that's not been ratified yet.

                If you are a contractor and you're charging your customer for the travel time to/from a site then you *might* be making fraudulent invoices. Be cautious.

                1. Jason 24

                  Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

                  I should clarify I suppose.

                  I don't get paid from the moment I leave the door Monday - Friday, traffic and where I choose to live is beyond the control of my employer.

                  I cannot claim mileage to my normal place of work, even on a weekend, that's HMRC rules.

                  But if you have requested me to work a weekend above and beyond my 37.5 hours then yes, my over time sheet will be completed from the moment I leave work until the moment I get home, all of that is eating into my personal time.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: no law at the moment that compels them to pay that travel time...

                  I think you'll find, as I did, that outside of normal working hours travel time is paid. Too lazy to look it up for you, but even Crapita pay travel time outside of working hours to office staff. Anon obvs.

        4. chas49

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          EU law does not make it illegal to pay an employee for the time spent on a break. The employee is entitled to the break. Whether it's paid or not depends on the contract.

        5. AIBailey Silver badge

          Re: working time directive.

          You're close in what you say.

          The law actually states that if you will be working for a period of more than 6 hours, you are entitled to a break period of at least 20 minutes. It doesn't mean you can't work more than 6 hours in a stretch without a break, however the break must be taken at some point in the middle of your shift, and not at the beginning or the end (so you're not meant to use your break period as justification for starting late or finishing early.)

          Unless explicitly stated somewhere in your T&C's the break is usually unpaid,

        6. Bernard M. Orwell

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          "IIRC the working time directive states that your employer must allow you to take a minimum of half an hour out of the first six hours, and fifteen minutes out of every subsequent three hours. Which is all good for your health. It also states that you MUST take those breaks."

          Alas, no, you do not recall correctly. As a union representative, I find this to be possibly the most frequently misunderstood area of employment law and you may well be surprised at the actual law - most employers are more generous than the law demands, but you don't have much in the way of legal entitlement to working breaks.

          the following extract is from the EU Working Time Directive page on UK.GOV

          "Workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break during their working day, if they work more than 6 hours a day. This could be a tea or lunch break. The break doesn’t have to be paid - it depends on their employment contract."

          And that's it. No other entitlements to breaks or rests etc. There is a clause in H&S laws however about extended VDU use (love that old fashioned term) wherein you are supposed to spend 15 minutes away from the screen every few hours; not a break, however, just different work.

          There's lots of advice to employers about letting your employees take breaks to maintain peak productivity, but there's no law making them do so.

          As an aside, the most frequently ignored or unknown rule I come across is the minimum break between shifts. I all too often meet with employees who are finishing late and starting early, especially on shift patterned work.

          Again, from the Working Directive:

          "Workers have the right to 11 hours rest between working days, eg if they finish work at 8pm, they shouldn’t start work again until 7am the next day."

          1. 96percentchimp

            Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

            What the law unfortunately doesn't say is that employers must make it possible for employees to obey the regulations: there must be enough staff and other resources to do the work required in the time available. That has rarely been my experience.

          2. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

            Actually, the EU waffle says exactly this: Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that, where the working day is longer than six hours, every worker is entitled to a rest break, the details of which, including duration and the terms on which it is granted, shall be laid down in collective agreements or agreements between the two sides of industry or, failing that, by national legislation. [ https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1414674219132&uri=CELEX:32003L0088 ]

            In my country (France) and my sector of work (argoalimentaire) it's a half hour for shift workers (7h30 worked normally) and 45 minutes for daytime workers (7-8 hours worked depending on who) and more for management types (usually an hour but very flexible, but they get away with it as they're paid a flat rate for seven hours a day and usually work an hour or more in addition to that).

        7. keith_w

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          It didn't sound as though they were "opting out" of taking their lunch break, more that the supervisors were not permitting them to take their lunch break. I just finished a contract for Dell which requires you to deduct your lunch break from your hours. I absolutely made certain that I took that break.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

      I did find that weird as a lot of places I worked didn't count the lunch break as part of the 40 hours per week but then this appears to be factory workers and not office/engineering staff. Must be different rules for them.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

        "... a lot of places I worked didn't count the lunch break as part of the 40 hours per week..."

        I consider myself lucky to never have worked anywhere that were anally penny-pinching around lunch break hours. Then again, I've almost always worked over 40 hours a week not including lunch breaks, and that's probably pretty much everyone working in IT, or most other office jobs.

        With factory workers, 9-5 is 0900-1700, not 0859-1700 or 0900-1701

        1. wallaby

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          I worked at a place where they had a 45 minute lunch break which was reduced to 42 minutes.

          The reason for this was there was a bus which left outside the factory at dead on the time the shift was set to finish so the union fought for an earlier finish so they staff could catch the bus - they got 3 minutes earlier but it had to come from somewhere.

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          I have explained to several employers that if they start arguing over a minute here and there, they will be arguing over a lot more than just minutes.

          I'm not a work-to-rule kind of guy, which is exactly one of the reasons it's probably not a good idea to try to make me one... I might well turn up early / go home late / skip a break if I'm busy. You don't want me working-to-rule. So complaining that I'm a minute late (so long as there's no urgent specific need to be there at that exact time that I'm aware of) is likely to lose you a whole lot more minutes that are being voluntarily donated to you elsewhere throughout the working year.

          I have had this conversation with a new "office manager" at a previous workplace. They thought that being the office manager when *nobody* else was around meant that they could instruct the IT Consultant hired by their employer what to do. They had a go at me one morning for coming in five minutes "late". I explained that I didn't have a start time. They didn't listen and decided to waste ten minutes shouting at me.

          Next morning, I was 10 minutes late. They shouted at me again, threatened to "tell the boss". I shrugged. No problem. I'm not paid by the hour.

          Next morning. 15 minutes. They threatened all sorts and went to the big boss.

          Who politely explained that not only was I an external contractor and - during that time - could pretty much turn up and go home whenever I liked, but that I was hired for a project delivery not for a time period, that I was far more valuable than the office manager (my daily rate was something like 5 times theirs, and all I had was a *deadline* to give the project by), that I wouldn't be bound by the office manager's hours anyway (I arrived later and left earlier than her every day for years, but she wasn't in charge then so she had never noticed), that the project was not only delivered on time but actually early (and thus more cheaply than they were expecting), and that I'd actually already saved the place more money than the entire project cost anyway by popping in on a few of my day's off to fix other things, clear out old equipment, get it recycled / sold on, etc. for free for them.

          She never liked me much after that. But at least from then on I didn't have to stop on my bike a few hundred yards up the road to make sure that I arrived consistently later each morning.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

            Great read! Thanks!

            The best bit, though, was:

            " But at least from then on I didn't have to stop on my bike a few hundred yards up the road to make sure that I arrived consistently later each morning."

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

      While I agree totally, the rather sad conclusion of this tale is that, even with record levels of employment in the US, Dickensian employers are still able to find staff and those staff aren't leaving at the first opportunity. That suggests employees are insecure and vulnerable which is something that employers are not going to fix voluntarily.

      More generally, I find it odd that prospective employees don't get to see their employment contract before they've accepted the job. That's not just a US thing - in the UK you'll get an offer letter setting out basics like pay and holiday entitlement, but you don't usually get the detail about breaks, responsibilities, being required to work in other locations, etc, and you're not actually required by law to get it until you've been in post for 2 months. By which time you've burned your bridges.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

        What kind of jobs are you applying for?

        I've literally never signed on the dotted line without a full and explicit contract, with working hours, pay, break entitlement, a job description, etc. often signed *months* before I actually ever start work for someone.

        All the other fancy stuff confirmed orally is - to quote a famous person - "not worth the paper it's printed on". Until I sign, I'm not committed. Before I commit, I *must* know the hours, pay, holiday and every detail. To do otherwise basically makes the contract negotiable, I just say "Nope, sorry, that's not what you said, and my contract does not mention those hours, so no... we don't have a meeting of minds, so no full contract, so no notice required".

        My current contract is no different (and I have an electronic copy sent to myself via a verification service in case they try to claim "their" copy is somehow different years down the line, which basically guarantees what the contract said and when that was evidenced by an independent third-party) - it explicitly lists working hours, venue, breaks, responsibilities, holiday, pension, pay, and all kinds of things. It was signed and dated by both parties before my notice was handed in at my previous place.

        "Not required by law"... that part's just nonsense. You do not EVER sign a contract without those details specified explicitly.

        And you don't EVER work for anyone that insists that you do.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

        A down vote for your " record levels of employment in the U.S. I know too many unemployed and underemployed people. I work in the tech industry and I haven't had a raise in nearly two years.

        1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge
          FAIL

          Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

          Downvote for the anecdotal downvote. The current unemployment rate is 3.6%, which is lower than any time in the last twenty years. And while it's true that the marginally attached and discouraged worker counts are still higher than in 2008, both numbers are still on a falling trajectory and the "persons not in the labor force who want a job" count is lower than any time since the "Great Recession".

          So while "record levels of employment" is overstating things, it's still on the right track.

      3. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

        "the detail about breaks, responsibilities, being required to work in other locations, etc, and you're not actually required by law to get it until you've been in post for 2 months"

        Can you provide a pointer to this law? Because that all sounds remarkably like changing the terms of an employment contract.

      4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

        Americans are (rightly) scared of losing their health insurance, and the companies know it.

    4. Sykowasp

      Re: "the cost of which would be automatically taken from their wages"

      That'll be what post-Brexit Britain ends up like, for workers rights versus giant bastard businesses.

      This company was banking billions each year, and didn't have the common decency to pay for their workers' lunchbreaks (or indeed give decent breaks in the first place, 30 minutes is a joke, I wonder how much holiday these workers got? Annual bonus?).

      I can say this quite safely with this article as evidence to back me up. Tyco is a business run by utter bastards.

  5. FozzyBear Silver badge
    Gimp

    What a shithole of a place to work

    Sounds like they were one step away from hiring someone to crack a whip when they saw someone slacking off a bit.

    I do wonder how many company paid for lunches the senior management enjoyed over that 7 years?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I get confused about these sort of things..

    Are we talking about greedy comies taking advantage of the workers or greedy capitalists taking advantage?

    Only difference I can see is the lawsuits vs beatings and prison time...I'll leave it to the reader to decide which is which.

  7. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Americistan??

    It appears that the US is a 3rd world country when it comes to employment practices. If you're high enough up the food chain to be able to negotiate your employment contract, then great, it's all roses. But for those doing the actual, physical production, it's a case of fuck you, you;re lucky we decided to employ you, now get back to work and be grateful! Not everyone can work there way up the ladder. Someone still has to do the "grunt" work.

    1. IGotOut

      Re: Americistan??

      Sorry but I'll think you'll find this applies to a great many countries around the world

      The harder you physically work, the lower you get paid and the more you get shit on.

    2. AK565

      Re: Americistan??

      Actually, in the US that attitude toward employees extends well above grunt level. I do a good bit of freelance work arranged through agencies. Companies that give me shit become 'schedule fillers'; I only take jobs with them when i need the extra hours. Most of my colleagues do the same.

    3. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Americistan??

      Pedantry, but...

      First world countries are those on the "Western" side of the Cold War (NATO/Capitalist)

      Second world countries are those on the "Eastern" side of the cold war (Warsaw Pact/Communist)

      Third world countries are those not on either side, typically the "developing world". Technically Switzerland as a declared neutral was a third world country. Third world and developing is now commonly used interchangeably.

      As for working practises, its worth pointing out that both pure Capitalist and pure Communist ideologies exploit the workers. Those countries that lie somewhere in between typically value the individual worker better.

    4. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      Re: Americistan??

      There's also only 2 countries in the world where earnings made outside of the country (say if your contracting) are still taxed in the country you're a citizen of.. (so in essence you're likely to be taxed twice).

      The U.S. OF A and Eritrea...

    5. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Americistan??

      That's exactly what the people pushing BREXIT want. They want to be able to sell the UK workforce to the American corporations without those pesky EU people "moaning" about workers rights!

      Ironically, the people who will be most affected are the ones who voted for this, but it still pisses me off.

  8. Joe User
    Flame

    Do the math

    30 minutes x 260 workdays = 7,800 minutes or 130 hours per year

    130 hours x 6 8/12 years = 866.67 hours

    $2,450 / 866.67 hours = $2.82 per hour

    $4,720 / 866.67 hours = $5.44 per hour

    $2.6 billion in profits and Tyco still shits on their employees, even after a lawsuit settlement....

  9. earl grey Silver badge
    Devil

    There is a way to fix this

    Arrest all the C levels and hold them for a year and confiscate their salary and give it to the ones cheated.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is a way to fix this

      that would be communism!

      Uhm, no, actually, in communism they would confiscate their business, shoot the owners, take their salary and throw a party for the commissars ("on behalf of the workers").

  10. TsVk!
    Facepalm

    No one said a word whilst quietly being shafted?

    I would have been questioning my pay packet on the very first week I got stiffed two and a half hours, not waiting almost seven years and then calling a lawyer. Seems a bit stupid really.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Fear

      Fear of being summarily dismissed.

      In "right to work" US states, the employer can just tell you to go home and not come back with no reason whatsoever.

      Even in states and countries with pretty good worker protections, a lot of people are terrified that complaining will get them fired, either because they don't know their rights, or they do but know that it's very difficult and quite expensive to claim wrongful dismissal.

      Unions can help in theory, but the union is the gatekeeper for help - and in some cases all future work in that industry.

      And even if you win the lawsuit, what then?

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Fear

        Surely you mean in "In non-"right to work" US states...."

        Having a right to X means the inability of the provider of X to withdraw the X.

      2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: Fear

        Fear of being summarily dismissed.

        This. So much this.

        Which means your only way of saying "eff y00" is to look for other work, and once you got other work, you can then stiff your ex-employer (if you want to).

      3. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Fear

        "In "right to work" US states, the employer can just tell you to go home and not come back with no reason whatsoever."

        FALSE - "Right to work" states are those where you cannot be compelled to join a union as a condition of your employment, and you can resign membership of a union without it affecting your job. What you are thinking about is "at will" employment, which means that the employer can fire an employee for any reason, or even for no reason at all, at any time, and an employee can likewise leave work at any time for any or no reason.

        It's actually a huge indictment of the shitty mess of American labour market that in some states you are obliged to join a union, the reasoning being that strong unions are needed to fight against big business. State governments are unwilling to themselves properly legislate worker's rights and fight against big business and so pass the buck to the unions. But as you say - "Unions can help in theory, but the union is the gatekeeper for help - and in some cases all future work in that industry" , this situation has historically led to corrupt union chiefs using their position for personal gain

  11. sabroni Silver badge

    Join a union

    or be fucked over like this indefinitely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Join a union

      No union == employer fucks you over, deducts 30 minutes from your timesheet.

      Union == no-one fucks with you, 30 minutes from your timesheet goes on union dues.

      1. Am

        Re: Join a union

        Yeah, but the employer is taking 30 minutes a day. The union is going to be closer to 30 minutes a month (depending on salary and amount paid - mine's around 45 minutes a month I think). Plus the union is actually going to help you on other work-related problems that the employer has caused. So on balance, I'll choose the union.

  12. mark4155
    Unhappy

    Not in our backyard!

    Not going to happen in the UK, As already stated we don't get paid for lunch breaks. Though we must take them....some employers insist on this, other don't. We don't get financially penalised for lunch breaks. I worked for BT, for sins committed in a previous life, they were really hot on ensuring lunch break, mind you, as a field service guy we had brews at every job ("brews" for our USA friends = coffee breaks :)

    As for lawyers fees, as its a class action, divided the costs between each individual claimant, would sit well with most people,

    Finally, I use some of Tyco's gear. I'm really surprised and disappointed with their attitude on this.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not in our backyard!

      "we don't get paid for lunch breaks."

      Not sure of the rules nowadays, but 30 years ago in the UK, if you didn't have a more usual unpaid 1 hour lunch break, the law said you got a minimum of a 20 minute and a 10 minute paid break during an 8 hour shift.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Not in our backyard!

        You're right about the 20 minute lunch, but the 10 minute break is long gone.

  13. A. Lewis
    Holmes

    Is this really uncommon?

    My employer asks me to work between times each day that amount to 8 hours, and they pay me for 7. If I don't take my lunch, that's my problem. I can of course negotiate with my boss to leave early instead of taking a break, but that's by exception.

    This is not the only place I've worked, nor heard of, that automatically adds unpaid time to the day for breaks. I think the difference is that my employer, unlike the one in the article, is upfront and open about what and how they pay, and never exerts any pressure on me to work through lunch.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Is this really uncommon?

      "automatically adds unpaid time to the day"

      Yes, I pulled that snippet out of context, but let's not forget Amazon paying their staff for work done, then making them queue up for security search before they are allowed to leave and go home.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: Is this really uncommon?

        Many service sector jobs rake unpaid time out of employees. McDonalds is notable for this - In for setup time, 30 mins ahead of shift, unpaid and then "stay till cleanup is done satisfactorily" at the end of the working day, again unpaid. (McDonalds have even acknowleged that they are breaking laws here, but until they are successfully sued they won't do anything about it - not likely to happen as they employ youngsters who don't know any better).

        its not uncommon, you'll find it in call centres (be ready and on your phone at the start of the shift, meaning you have to be there early to login/setup etc.), hotels, restaurants and even supermarkets.

  14. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Flame

    Workers' rights getting shafted

    Coming soon, to a Brexit near you.

    1. baud Bronze badge

      Re: Workers' rights getting shafted

      I don't see how stopping to follow the directives of the UE will make all the UK's worker protection laws disappear

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Workers' rights getting shafted

        You're not being cynical enough then. The tories in particular are quite keen on promising to keep worker's rights "equivalent", which sounds like they won't change them, but in reality, means nothing, and in practice means big businesses lobbying them to remove protections via the mechanism of party donations. This is ironic really, since a lot of the EU regulations around employment (such as minimum paid holidays, sick leave, maternity, etc.) have originated at least in part, from the UK.

        1. SonOfDilbert

          Re: Workers' rights getting shafted

          I don't think that many people who voted to leave the EU realise that the UK contributed greatly to the creation of so many EU laws -- including what you mention. I think that UK workers will indeed experience the kind of pettiness and disregard detailed in the article -- especially with Bozzer The Clown about to become PM.

  15. mikehealy2

    Of course, TE Connectivity has 80000 employees across 24 locations and revenue is $13.99 bn. So making lots of money and being located across a range of countries, it will have different employment regulations for its different localities. It seems to me that wherever you work for this company, you need collective strength to bargain up to the best deal. Simply really. Do the research, organise your workmates/co-workers and get a better deal.

  16. JoMe

    According to @sed gawk

    Tyco don't exist, so what's the story here?!?

    1. Esme

      Re: According to @sed gawk

      Companies do change names and get absorbed by other companies over teh years, y'know: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyco_International

      1. JoMe

        Re: According to @sed gawk

        Actually, my comment was a rib at @sed gawk. I noted that I'd worked for several companies that did S rated work, and his comical response was to essentially claim that such things didn't exist. Since Tyco is one such company (or was last I worked there), I was merely pointing out the irony in his claims...

  17. Potemkine! Silver badge

    B'stards

    For the ones who fought hard so the employees wouldn't have their money back, while the company was making a profit of $2,600,000,000 a year: Burn in hell. The only question will be what Circle of Hell will fit best. the 4th or the 8th?

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    I get automagically docked an hour.

    It is the way of things.

  19. chivo243 Silver badge

    My ex-boss must work there

    This joker would look at my time card (punched by the time clock!) and say, you didn't work all these hours... and change the number of hours. Later, I would show this to his partner, and get my remaining pay. Always in cash too...

  20. elimin8ed

    I wonder if the fire exits are chained closed as well. Sweatshops are alive and well in the USA.

  21. Mike Rodgers

    Almost $3 billion in *profit*, and they're fighting tooth and nail over a couple million, that the workers were actually owed. SMDH.

  22. O RLY

    Still channelling the spirit of Dennis Kozlowski apparently.

    Well, he's gone, but shady people still remain in charge of Tyco.

  23. bigtreeman

    tight arsed boss

    so... I'm calculating $2.6bn profit generated by 80,000 employees is $185,000 profit per employee in one year and they're quibbling about $2,450 average payout per employee for 7 years of lunch breaks.

  24. Name Withheld

    Always surprised when colleagues tell me they never read their T&Cs, and barely read policies, then wonder why they get annoyed when they don’t get what they think they should have.

    Personally never signed a contract without being aware of what I’m committing to, I also try to get hold of the key policies that mean something to me.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The American employment model

    A pox on the landscape.

  26. cortland

    "A spokesperson was not available for immediate comment."

    Lunch?

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