Can’t Take Lunch? Could that be an Hour’s Pay in that Brown Bag?

Chances are, if you work at 8-hour day, you’re schedule a meal break of 30 minutes or more. You’re entitled to 30 minutes. If your employer doesn’t do that, you’re owed an hour’s wage.

I’ve talked to LOTS of people who are scheduled a break, but have to eat a sandwich or take-out lunch while still working. Driving, for instance.

Just last month, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers are not permitted to “round” meal break punches if the employee didn’t work the full 30 minutes. AND, if your employer’s timesheets, timeclock records, etc., show that the full 30 minutes aren’t recorded, THAT’s a meal break violation. (You can only get one hours a pay if that happens, however, but it’s still an hour’s pay. Does the employer have a defense? It has to prove the employee could have taken that break but decided to not do so. The burden is on the employer!

Remember: most of the time employers have to provide their employees with that 30 minute uninterrupted meal break after the first 5 hours of work. (What does ‘uninterrupted’ mean? It means very slight – 1 or 2 minutes, say – interruptions are okay; but not for any extended period of interruption to do work.)

Are you forced to miss meal breaks once in a while, often, or always? Keep track! It can add up, for the prior three years!

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