Pharmacy Pays Settlement for Lack of Break Times

An independent pharmacy will pay a $46,000 settlement over an alleged lack of break times for its employees.

An independent pharmacy will pay a $46,000 settlement over an alleged lack of break times for its employees.

Three former employees, Rocio Rodriguez, Marisol Gonzalez, and Dulce Alvarado, filed small claims lawsuits with California’s labor commissioner against Point Reyes Station-based West Marin Pharmacy owned by Zsuzsanna Biran and Jason Yoon.

Deputy Labor Commissioner Molly Hillis ruled that the pharmacy owed the 3 ex-employees rest-period premium wages and waiting-time penalties. However, Hillis did not believe that they were due overtime wages from a “minute-rounding timesheet system,” according to The Point Reyes Light.

California labor laws dictate that employees should have at least a 10-minute break during each 4-hour shift, and Hillis did not see evidence that the pharmacy had provided this for its employees. Employees said that their “breaks” were filled with other tasks for the pharmacy, such as running to the post office or bank.

“We didn’t really have a break policy,” Rodriguez said during the hearing, according to The Point Reyes Light. “I don’t really recall taking many breaks.”

In contrast, Biran said employees were allowed to take breaks, and they did so during slow periods when they could talk with family and friends.

“There were no days when they did not take breaks,” Biran testified, according to The Point Reyes Light. “No matter how busy it was, they would take breaks.”

Other employees stated that while the break policy was never communicated to them directly, they knew they could take a break if someone else could cover for them.

The pharmacy now includes information about California labor rights in its employee handbook, according to The Point Reyes Light,.

The paper reported that Biran and her husband are struggling to keep the pharmacy afloat as they are confronted with the lawsuits, more costly prescriptions, and shrinking reimbursements.

“It certainly places a financial burden. And emotional, spiritual,” Biran told The Point Reyes Light. “It’s a heartbreak.”