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Company to pay $1.75 million to workers in bathroom break lawsuit

A Pennsylvania company must pay about $1.75 million to thousands of employees who had to clock out while going on short breaks, including bathroom breaks. 

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Firm to pay up after making workers clock out for bathroom. 

A Pennsylvania company that publishes business newsletters will pay about $1.75 million to thousands of employees who had to clock out while going on short breaks, including for the bathroom.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a federal judge has given the U.S. Department of Labor and the Malvern-based company, American Future Systems Inc., until Thursday to submit proposals on managing payment.

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The company had argued that it wasn't required to pay employees for short breaks.

The bill includes back pay and damages to 6,000 employees at 14 Progressive Business Publications call centers located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio used a timekeeping system that was associated with logging on and off their computers between 2009 and 2013.

The Department of Labor filed a lawsuit in 2012 claiming the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act because employees weren't earning minimum wage when the company required them to clock out for breaks.

“For far too long, American Future Systems, [Progresive's parent company,] penalized its employees for taking breaks to meet the most basic needs during the work day – stretching their legs, getting a glass of water or just using the restroom,” said Jim Cain, district director for the department’s Wage and Hour Division, in a statement.

The court also ruled the company failed to keep proper record keeping requirements. Both the lack of records and the unpaid breaks are considered violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, reported the Philadelphia Business Journal.