Attorney general cites Beth Israel hospital over meal breaks

The Massachusetts attorney general's office has issued a citation and fine against Beth Israel Lahey Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport for alleged failure to keep true and accurate payroll records of nurses who worked through meal breaks.

After an investigation, Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell's office issued a citation and fine of $7,500 last week against the hospital for "failure to keep true and accurate payroll records from 8/14/2022 to 11/3/2023, without specific intent," a violation of state law.

Anna Jaques Hospital, part of Cambridge, Mass.-based Beth Israel Lahey Health, appealed this finding.

The attorney general's office began investigating the issue after a complaint filed by the Massachusetts Nurses Association in September 2022. The MNA, which represents nurses at the hospital, said in a Nov. 14 news release that the attorney general's office found that hospital management's timekeeping records fail to accurately reflect the hours actually worked by nurses who are unable to take or unable to get approval to miss a meal break.

In addition to seeking intervention from Ms. Campbell's office, the union, in contract negotiations for a new labor deal, is proposing that the hospital provide additional staff, break nurses. 

"Recognizing the importance of a healthy team, Anna Jaques Hospital takes multiple steps to ensure our employees can take their meal breaks, including creating a new cafeteria space offering high-quality food during all shifts," a hospital spokesperson said in a statement shared with Becker's. "At the same time, all employees are encouraged to inform their supervisors if the sometimes time-sensitive patient care needs cause them to miss a meal break. We are confident that our actions comply with state and federal laws."

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