New Hampshire’s GOP legislature has come up with all manner of absurd bills recently, including a proposal making public school curriculum optional, another to prevent police from protecting domestic abuse victims, and even a measure mandating that new laws be based on the Magna Carta. Some of the Granite State’s GOP lawmakers have even proposed doing away with the law that requires employers to give their workers time off for lunch, under the rationale that all employers will simply grant lunch breaks out of the goodness of their hearts:
“This is an unneeded law,” [Republican state Representative Kyle Jones] said. “If I was to deny one of my employees a break, I would be in a very bad position with the company’s human resources representative. If you consider that this is a very easy law to follow in that everyone already does it, then why do we need it? Our constituents have already proven that they have enough common sense to do this on their own.”
The bill’s sponsor, state representative J.R. Hoell, argued that companies failing to provide lunch breaks would be shamed over social media, thus rendering the law unnecessary. “If they are not letting people have lunch, they could put it out though the news media, though social media. I don’t think that abusive behavior would continue, the way communications are today,” he said.
Of course, not every employer can be counted to to follow even the easiest of requirements to look after workers’ health and rights. Back in 2005, Walmart was forced to pay $172 million for denying workers their lunch breaks. Pyramid Breweries Inc. settled a case in 2008 for $1.5 million. Just a few months ago, California ordered Embassy Suites to pay workers tens of thousands of dollars for forcing them to skip breaks.
“The fact that in 2012, I would be even sitting in front of the Labor Committee talking about eliminating the lunch hour is outrageous,” said Mark MacKenzie, New Hampshire’s state AFL-CIO representative. “People should at least be able to be given the opportunity to eat.” Fortunately, the bill does not seem too appealing to most of the New Hampshire legislature, and the state House’s labor committee adjourned yesterday without voting on it.