Meal and Rest Breaks

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California Meal & Rest Break Law

Experienced Attorneys Advocating for Your Rights as an Employee

California Labor Code 512 goes beyond the federal wage and hour laws found in the Fair Labor Standards Act by requiring employers to provide meal breaks and rest periods for employees who have worked a certain amount of time. 

Our Calabasas employment lawyers at Gaines & Gaines represent workers all over California who have been denied the meal breaks and rest periods to which they are entitled. With over five decades of professional experience, we know how to strategize an effective case for compensation and will advocate firmly for your rights as an employee.

Schedule a free consultation with Gaines & Gaines online or call (866) 400-4450 to get started on your meal and rest break violation case.

What Is California Meal Break Law?

In California, anytime an employee works more than 5 hours, they are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break. During this time, the employee is to be relieved of all duties and is free to leave the premises. 

The meal break should be taken within the first 5 hours of work, and it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the meal break is taken on time. If the shift exceeds 10 hours, a second meal period is required, though the employee may choose to waive this second meal break if the workday is no longer than 12 hours and they did not waive the first meal break.

For a violation of this law, the employee is entitled to be paid for the missed break plus a premium of one hour of pay at the regular rate. Every day the employee misses a meal break counts as a separate violation of the law.

Violation of Lunch Break Laws & Additional Overtime Claims

Note that overtime claims can sometimes be implicated in meal break cases. When an employee is told to clock out for a meal break but is required to keep working, the employee may end up working more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. In such a case, the worker would be entitled to recover unpaid overtime wages at time and a half as well as the premium penalty for the missed meal break. 

Reach out to our experienced attorneys at Gaines & Gaines for more clarification on your rights to meal breaks and what to do if your employer has infringed upon your rights. Under CA meal break law, you deserve meal break requirements met. Contact us should you need an employment law attorney. 

What Is California Rest Break Law?

Employees are also entitled to rest periods as well as meal breaks. For every 4 hours on the clock, an employee is entitled to a 10-minute paid break. As much as practicable, the break should be given in the middle of the 4-hour period (after 2 hours of work). 

So, an employee who works an 8-hour shift is entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one 30-minute unpaid meal period. As with meal breaks, the penalty for not giving a rest period is that the employee is owed one hour of pay for every day a break is denied.

Rest period violations can be difficult to prove because employers are only required to make the break available – employees are not required by law to take them. Whether an employer adequately communicated that a break was freely available and whether an employee knowingly and voluntarily waived a break time can be difficult to establish in court.

How Can a California Employment Law Attorney Help With a Break Law Dispute?

If you're facing issues with break time compensation in California, consulting with an experienced employment attorney can be critical. The complexity of California break laws, including specifics about the California meal penalty and other regulations around lunch breaks in California, can be difficult to navigate without professional guidance. An attorney experienced with these laws can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive any compensation you may be entitled to for violations of California break time regulations.

The services provided by employment attorneys in this context include:

  • Evaluation of Your Case: Analyzing your work situation to determine if there has been a violation of California break laws.
  • Explanation of Laws and Rights: Offering a detailed understanding of your rights concerning lunch breaks in California and rest periods.
  • Representation in Disputes: Acting as your advocate in any disputes with your employer regarding break time in California, including negotiations and, if necessary, courtroom representation.
  • Filing Claims: Assisting with the preparation and filing of claims for violations, including claims for California meal penalties.
  • Negotiating Settlements: Negotiating with employers to secure a fair settlement for any owed compensation due to break law violations.
  • Guidance Through the Legal Process: Providing step-by-step guidance through the legal process, ensuring that you understand each phase and what is expected.
  • Recovering Unpaid Wages: Helping to recover not only the premium pay for missed breaks but also any other unpaid wages or overtime that may be owed due to misclassification or other wage and hour violations.
  • Protection Against Retaliation: Offering protection and legal recourse in cases where an employer might retaliate against an employee for asserting their rights under California break laws.

By leveraging the expertise of a qualified employment attorney, workers can effectively address issues related to break time compensation and ensure their rights under California labor laws are fully protected.

Let Gaines & Gaines Fight For You

The Calabasas employment attorneys at Gaines & Gaines have significant experience enforcing California’s labor laws, including class actions based on employer violations of the law across a workforce. If you believe that you have been unfairly denied meal breaks or rest periods, consult an attorney at Gaines & Gaines for a professional evaluation on how to proceed with your claim.

You have a right to meal and rest as an employee. Contact Gaines & Gaines online immediately if your rights have been infringed upon.


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