HR Strange But True!
March 22, 2012

When you hear about someone getting fired over a lunch break, it’s usually because he or she repeatedly takes long breaks or is doing something inappropriate. However, one Chicago woman found herself in the unemployment line for working through her lunch break.

Smiley worked for her former employer, a realty company, for 10 years before one lunch period got her fired. She punched out for lunch but remained at her desk to work on a project. A manager told her it was time for her break, but Smiley continued to work.

The HR director came over and reviewed the company’s policy that hourly nonexempt employees were required to take a 30-minute lunch break.

“I knew you couldn’t eat lunch at your desk,” Smiley told ABC News. “I was under the impression that because I was punched out I could do what I want.”

In addition, Illinois law also requires employers to provide employees a lunch break.

Smiley was terminated for misconduct and insubordination. As a result, she was not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Smiley, took her case to court and, after a 2-year fight, an appeals court in Illinois has ruled that she is entitled to unemployment benefits.


ABC news

Have you heard about a work break gone bad? Tell us your story.

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