Mandatory lunch breaks?

Hi all - In the pathology department at our hospital we prefer NOT to take
a lunch break, since that puts us 1/2 hour further behind.  The three of us
are already currently working more hours than we would prefer, and do not
want to stay longer into the day than we already  have to.  We prefer to
take a 15-20 minute break earlier in the day, and then work thru till the
work is done.  If we have a new employee or a pool person we tell them they
can take a 1/2 hour lunch if they would like, and that they are also
entitled to a 15 minute break for each 4 hours they work.  We never tell
anyone they can't take a lunch.  We just prefer not to take one ourselves..
Now administration is telling us we all HAVE to take a 30 minute lunch and
that it will be deducted from our time cards.  I'm wondering how this is
handled in other places, and if anyone knows if there is a federal law
mandating 30 minutes lunches, or if it varies state by state, or per
unions, etc.  Any input is appreciated!

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