Is an employee suing you for missed meal and rest breaks?
In California there are strict regulations regarding meal and rest breaks for employees. Failure to provide employees with these breaks can result in wage and hour litigation and lawsuits by employees for failure to provide meal and rest breaks. Our staff at Webb Law Group, APC is experienced in defending and settling lawsuits where employees are suing their employer for alleged break violations.
Employees who work more than five (5) hours in a day are entitled to an uninterrupted thirty (30) minute meal break. However, an employee may agree to waive that meal break if they will not work more than six (6) hours in the day.
In addition, employees who are working more than ten (10) hours in a day must also be given a second thirty (30) minute meal break. But the employee may waive this second meal break if:
Their workday will be no longer than twelve (12) hours; and they did not waive their first meal break of the day.
Additionally, if the nature of the employee’s duties is such that they must remain on-duty while taking a lunch break, under certain circumstances it may be permissible for the employee of take an on-duty meal break, provided that there is an agreement for them to do so and that they employee is paid for the on-duty meal break.
At Webb Law Group, APC, we have expertise in drafting and using these meal period waivers and agreements in order to protect business owners from meritless lawsuits. Employee claims for meal and rest breaks are common and it is crucial to have an experienced employment defense attorney on your side to take care of any claims made by employees.
Employees are entitled to uninterrupted rest breaks under the law whenever their daily work time is at least three and a half (3.5) hours. These mandatory rest breaks must be offered at the rate of ten (10) minutes for every four (4) hours worked, or “major fraction” thereof. Anything over two (2) hours is considered by the courts to be a “major fraction” of four (4).
These rest breaks must be counted as time worked and must be paid time. They should also be in the middle of the employee’s work period, to the extent that this is possible. In a standard eight (8) hour workday, typically this would result in one paid ten (10) minute rest break before the meal period and another one after the meal period.
It can be very difficult for employers to ensure that their employees are following the rules and regulations. A California Supreme Court called Brinker v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, clarified that employers are not required to ensure that employees do no work during the meal or rest break. In other words, if employees voluntarily choose to work during a break, the employer is not responsible for that, so long as they made the meal and rest breaks available to the employee.
At Webb Law Group, APC, we have knowledge in not only creating systems to avoid rest break lawsuits, but also to argue against employees who improperly bring these claims. Lawsuits for meal and rest breaks can come with expensive penalties and in order to avoid that if you have an employee making a claim for unpaid breaks, you should call Webb Law Group, APC today for a consultation.
Meal and Rest Break Lawsuits and Penalties
California employees often sue employers for denying them meal or rest breaks required under the California Labor Code. Wage and hour class action lawsuits often involve failure to provide meal breaks or rest periods as a claim of the employees.
Employees in these lawsuits seek penalties in the form of meal and rest break premiums. The law provides that these employees could recover up to one hour of pay for each break that they did not received
So, for example, let’s say an employee that makes $20 an hour claims that they were not allowed to take both a meal break and a rest break every shift during a year of employment (roughly 250 workdays). That employee would then be claiming 500 break penalties (250 meal period and 250 rest period), which at $20 an hour would be equal to $10,000. And this is just for one employee over one year! Many of the lawsuits that our experienced employment and labor attorneys have defended have been brought by numerous employees or are class actions, which if not defended properly can result in even more money owed in penalties. This is why it is essential to have counsel like Webb Law Group, APC on your side.