What Happens If Your Employer Violates California Lunch Break Laws
You go to work, put in your hours, and finally sit down for a needed lunch break. But what happens when your employer refuses to give you one? Most employees are legally entitled to unpaid lunch breaks, and when an employer violates California lunch break laws, they may be subject to penalties and required to compensate you. Knowing your rights and understanding the steps to take if you face lunch break violations is essential. Staying informed ensures employers uphold California’s standards, and you get the break time you’re entitled to. Contact us today to speak with a California meal and rest periods lawyer!
What are California’s Lunch Break Laws?
California’s meal and rest break laws are clear. They mandate that employers provide employees with a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break every five hours they work. Employees who work more than ten hours daily are entitled to a second 30-minute meal break. During these breaks, employees should be free from work responsibilities and allowed to leave the premises. These meal breaks are typically unpaid unless the employer requires the employee to remain on duty and the employee agrees to it. So, if you’re munching on your sandwich while typing away at your desk, that’s working time, and your employer should pay you for it.
Are There Any Exceptions to Lunch Break Violations?
There are some exceptions. For instance, you and your employer can agree to waive the meal break if your workday is six hours or shorter. But this agreement must be voluntary, not forced. The same goes for a 12-hour workday—you can waive the second meal break, but only if you took the first one. Some other industries, such as the health care, construction, and motion picture sectors, also have unique and differing rules regarding meal breaks. And if your job involves protecting public safety, like firefighters or police officers, you might not get a traditional meal break during emergencies. However, these exceptions are specific, and your employer must still follow industry-specific meal and rest break laws closely. If they don’t, it could still be a violation.
How Do I Report Worker Meal Break Laws Violations?
While a good first step includes speaking with an employment law attorney, here are some others you can take to remedy a lunch break violation:
- Talk to your employer. Your employer may not be aware of California’s laws or that you aren’t getting breaks, so simple communication with your supervisor or HR may fix the problem.
- File a complaint. If talking with your employer doesn’t work, you can file a complaint online with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The DLSE will investigate and, if necessary, take action against your employer.
- Document everything. Throughout the process, document all evidence of violations. Evidence will be crucial if you decide to pursue legal action.
If you are uncomfortable speaking with your employer, are unsure how to file a claim, or decide to take legal action, an employment law advocate can help. At Bibiyan Law Group, P.C., we can advise you about your next best steps and assist you in navigating the legal process. And remember, your employer cannot retaliate against you for asserting your rights. If you face retaliation, report it immediately.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove Employee Lunch Break Laws Violated by Employer?
If you suspect that your employer violated employee lunch break laws, it’s essential to gather evidence such as:
- Time records. Check your timecards or records to ensure your employer documented your breaks properly. Evidence of missing breaks can boost your claim;
- Witness statements. If your coworkers experienced the same violations or can attest to your lack of breaks, it can strengthen your case;
- Emails and other communications. Keep a record of any emails, messages, or conversations where you’ve discussed lunch break issues with your employer or HR department; and
- Photos or videos. Photos or videos showing you working through your meal breaks can be powerful evidence.
Remember, evidence is critical to proving California employment law violations. The more you have, the stronger your case becomes.
Bibiyan Law Group, P.C. Will Fight for You
If your employer violates California lunch break laws, a skilled employment law attorney at Bibiyan Law Group, P.C. can evaluate your case, help you collect evidence, and fight to protect your rights. Our compassionate yet driven approach to solving employment law issues has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in settlements for our clients. Our team of nearly 20 lawyers and 40 support staff only focus on one thing—employment law—so you can rest assured your case will always receive the specialized attention it deserves. Don’t let workplace unfairness go unchallenged. At Bibiyan Law Group, we’ll work with you one-on-one to develop a solution that suits your unique needs. We offer free consultations and never charge fees unless you win. Contact us today and let us explain how we can help you.