More and more employers are now encouraging lunch breaks as a means for promoting health and creativity. However, workers for AT&T in Indiana claim the only thing creative about their lunch break is the “heavy restrictions” the company is putting on them.

A class action lawsuit filed by 11 employees against AT&T Midwest, alleging that the telecommunications giant allows them to eat packed lunches in vehicles during unpaid lunch hours, but they are not allowed to spend the remainder of the lunch break doing things like reading newspapers, napping, or using personal computers and listening to music in their cars.

It gets worse. Employees also say they are also forbidden from sitting in idling vehicles for air conditioning or heat during lunch and some employees, such as manhole workers, are required to guard their area during their lunch break — not going more than a half-mile from one job to another without risk of receiving disciplinary action.

“AT&T is committed to full compliance with all federal and state laws, including the wage and hour laws, and has received numerous awards for being an employer of choice,” said Marty Richter, a spokesperson for AT&T.

Yet, while AT&T may be an award-winning employer, the plaintiff’s attorney, Kimberly Jeselskis says that this case is not the result of an isolated incident, and “there is a companion case currently pending in Wisconsin detailing the same issues.”

The worker’s lawsuit contends a breach of the Fair Labor Standards Act by “treating the time allocated to the technicians so-called meal breaks, AT&T has failed to pay the technicians time and a half for all such hours worked in excess,” as well as a violations of Indiana wage and record keeping laws.

The suit seeks to make unpaid lunch breaks illegal under FLSA and state law, payment of attorney fees and damages.

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