Cutting workers’ hours to avoid Obamacare may be illegal

The Affordable Care Act says that any company with more than 50 full-time employees must offer health care benefits or pay a penalty. A full-time employee is defined as someone who works at least 30 hours a week.

Some businesses have tried to get around this requirement by cutting workers’ hours to just below 30 hours a week. The idea is to avoid paying for their employees’ medical care while also avoiding the penalty.

Recently, though, some employees at the Dave & Buster’s restaurant chain who had their hours reduced in this way filed a lawsuit claiming that the practice was illegal. They claimed that cutting their hours violated a federal law called ERISA, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against workers with respect to their right to employee benefits.

The case hasn’t been resolved, but a federal judge in New York allowed it to move forward to trial.

If your company is considering adjusting workers’ hours in light of Obamacare, you might want to speak with an attorney.