Debunking California Meal and Rest Break Myths

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California law requires employers to provide a meal break for every five hours worked. If the employer does not provide these breaks, employees are entitled to California meal and rest break premiums.

On the other hand, the law does not require the employer to provide any additional breaks, such as rest or other breaks.  If the employer offers additional breaks, the law requires that they be taken at specific times and for a specific duration.

What are Rest and Meal Period Laws?

Rest and meal period laws require employers in California to provide a certain amount of break time to employees who must be relieved of all work duties. Employers must also provide employees with a meal break of at least 30 minutes if the employee works more than five hours a day.

The break time and meal break requirements ensure that workers have the opportunity to take a rest or eat a meal during their shift. While both types of breaks are essential, meal breaks are especially crucial, as they allow employees to step away from their workstations and refuel.

But there are many myths surrounding California’s meal and rest break laws. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

Myth: Employers can provide meal periods at any point in the shift

Fact:  Employers must provide a first meal period after the fifth hour of work and a second meal period at the end of an employee’s tenth hour of work.

Employees are only allowed to take their break after the fifth hour of work. This is stated in the California Labor Code section 512. If employers provide meal periods at any other point, they are not compliant with the law.

Myth: Employers can “round up” break times

Fact:  Meal breaks and rest periods are now more strictly regulated, which disallows rounding time for meal breaks. The court ruled that workers should receive a 30-minute meal break minimum, which means a 28-minute or 29-minute break is not allowed anymore.

Employers in California are no longer allowed to round time for meal breaks. A recent court ruling determined that workers require a 30-minute meal break minimum. If you are an employer in California, you need to be aware of this new ruling and make sure that you are not rounding time for meal breaks. Doing so could result in penalties and fines.

Myth: Informing employees of their break times is enough to show compliance; if they end up working anyway, we’re not liable

Fact: Some employers provide employees with a break but may still require that they stay on call in an emergency. In this case, the employee is still considered on their break and should not be required to work. If the employee is asked to work during their break, they are entitled to California meal and rest break premiums that they worked.

The same is true if an employee is given a break but is not relieved of their duties. For example, if an employee is allowed to take a 10-minute smoke break but is still required to answer the phone or help customers, they may be entitled to compensation for that time.

Myth: The law doesn’t cover temps and independent contractors

Fact: Temp workers in California are entitled to the same meal and rest breaks as regular employees. If your employer is not providing you with the required break, you may be able to file a compensation claim.

Temp workers in California are entitled to the same meal and rest breaks as regular employees. If your employer is not providing you with the required break, you may be entitled to California meal and rest break premiums.

It is important to know your rights as an employee and to not be afraid to speak up if you feel like they are being violated. If you suspect that your employer is not complying with California meal and rest break laws, you should consult the attorneys at Haffner Law to discuss your options.


Understanding California Rest Break Laws

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As an employee in California, you’re entitled to various rights, and one of them is being able to enjoy breaks. However, the state’s meal and rest break laws can seem very technical, and there are some details you might not be aware of.

It’s best to learn all you can about your employer’s obligations regarding meal periods so that you’ll know if you are being treated fairly or not. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should know:

Meal and Rest Breaks Are Different

California is one of the few states that require employers to provide two types of breaks. The first is a 30-minute meal break given to employees who work for at least five hours. If they are to work for 10 hours, they are entitled to a second 30-minute meal break.

If the nature of the job would prevent the employee from taking a break from their duties, then the company can provide an on-duty meal period. A good example is when a secretary needs to eat at their desk because they’ll need to answer the phone immediately if it rings. That said, the worker must agree to the offer in writing.

The second type is rest breaks. Employers are required to provide their workers with a paid 10-minute break for every four hours of work. If it’s possible, these should be taken in the middle of a work period. Take note that these are not required for those who work for less than three and a half hours.

Lactation Breaks Exist

Companies must grant nursing workers lactation breaks so they can produce breast milk for their infants. These breaks can coincide with rest and meal breaks. Keep in mind that employees who are nursing can’t seek payment for lactation breaks taken outside other existing ones. They should also be provided a lactation space within the premises where they can privately produce milk.

Employers are at risk of severe consequences if they fail to provide lactation accommodation, including breaks, to employees who are nursing. They’d be required to pay a minimum of $100 for each count of the violation.

You Can Claim Compensation for Missed Breaks

If your employer deprives you of breaks, you can file a wage claim with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Once filed, the DLSE will issue citations to your company requiring it to give you compensation. You’re only given a three-year timeframe (starting from the date of the alleged violation) to file one.

It’s ideal to get a lawyer when planning to pursue these types of claims to get their opinion on whether there are valid grounds to continue and the likelihood of you prevailing. They can negotiate settlements for you and, if necessary, represent you in court.

Talk to an Experienced Lawyer

If your employer won’t let  you take breaks or if you think that you’re being mistreated by your employer in other ways, then it’s best to talk to a competent lawyer. Haffner Law’s team of attorneys has a proven track record of providing top-notch legal services to individuals seeking compensation for mistreatment in the workplace. Get in touch with us today at 1-844-HAFFNER to schedule a free consultation.


Can I Sue My Employer for Violating Meal and Rest Break Laws?

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Research shows that over 90% of workers in North America feel that taking meal breaks helps them feel refreshed and prepared to return to work. Apart from helping workers destress and recharge for the rest of the workday, meal and rest breaks also improve overall job satisfaction.

While federal law does not require employers to provide break periods, several states, including California, have separate guidelines for meal and rest breaks. Just recently, the California Supreme Court revisited the methodology for calculating meal and rest break premiums for non-exempt workers.

Non-exempt employees include “persons employed in professional, clerical, technical, mechanical, and similar occupations whether compensated on a commission, time, piece rate, or other bases.” They are protected by federal and California labor laws and are entitled to minimum wage, required rest periods, and meal breaks.

California meal break requirements

  • Under Labor Code 512, employees who work five hours a day must be given an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes.
  • Employees who are working more than 10 hours a day are also eligible for a second 30-minute meal break.
  • A meal break may be waived provided that the employee doesn’t work more than 6 hours in a shift.
  • Workers are allowed to spend meal breaks outside of work premises.

California rest break guidelines

  • Non-exempt employees are entitled to a 10-minute paid and uninterrupted rest break for every four hours that they work.
  • The rest period may not be required for employees that clock in only 3 ½ hours per day.
  • Your employer may not require you to remain on work premises during rest breaks.
  • Workers may skip rest breaks provided that the employer did not coerce or persuade them to.

For a lawful meal or rest break, the employer must relieve the worker of all responsibilities and cease control of employee activities. Meal and rest breaks must be taken separately and cannot be combined. It is unlawful for an employer to provide a 1-hour period or less for both meal and rest breaks.

Can I take legal action against employers who violate rest break guidelines?

Yes, you can hold them accountable. Under California state law, employers who violate meal or rest break laws are required to provide their workers with “premium pay.” Employees are legally entitled to one additional hour of wages at their regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal or rest period is denied.

Apart from the base hourly wages, other nondiscretionary payments like incentives, commissions, bonuses, and shift differentials must also be taken into account when calculating premium pay.

Can exempt salaried workers also sue employers for no meal or rest breaks?

It depends. There are several kinds of exemptions within California labor laws. For instance, supervisors may fall under the executive exemption. In this case, it’s best to consult with a labor law attorney to understand your workplace rights or determine whether you’re misclassified by your employer.

Partner with skilled class-action lawyers

Employers can be held liable for failing to comply with rest period laws. At Haffner Law, we help workers file class-action lawsuits against unjust employers in California. Schedule a free consultation now and get the compensation you deserve.

How to Protect Yourself From Wage Theft

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The occasional mistake in your paycheck is common. Most of the time, these errors can be addressed and corrected with a simple visit to the Human Resources department. But when it happens too often, there might be a more sinister reason behind it.

It’s not unheard of — some companies employ unethical or illegal business practices to reduce expenses. According to a study by the Economic Policy Institute, employees lose close to $8 billion a year from wage theft alone. Although this problem occurs in all industries, it is most common in low-wage jobs.

Protect yourself and your co-workers from wage theft. Educate yourself on the different ways employers commit wage theft. The more you know about them, the easier it is to identify bad practices.

Common Forms of Wage Theft

Employers may commit wage theft in several ways. Some are more obvious than others, but they all result in cheating employees their due pay. Here are the most common forms of this crime.


According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are entitled to overtime pay. There are only two exemptions, namely independent contractors and exempt employees (e.g. employees paid a salary that is above the minimum weekly requirement). Employees not exempted are entitled to receive overtime pay when they exceed the 40-hour workweek. Employers who don’t abide by this are committing wage theft.

Employee Misclassification

Under the FLSA, independent contractors don’t enjoy the same privileges and protection regular employees do. Independent contractors are not entitled to minimum wage, overtime pay, and employee insurance. Misclassification occurs when an employer intentionally categorizes a regular employee as an independent contractor for a tax break; this indirectly results in wage theft.

Illegal Deductions

Most employers deduct pay to compensate for employee violations. However, some do this for trivial or fabricated violations. When these deductions result in a final amount of less than the minimum wage, the employer can be charged with wage theft.

Working Off the Clock

Some employers require their employees to come in on a weekend or holiday, usually for legitimate reasons. When an employee comes in, they are entitled to additional pay. The employer’s failure to provide proper compensation is considered wage theft.

Full Wage Theft

The most blatant form of the crime, full wage theft occurs when an employer fails or refuses to pay for work done. It applies to regular employees and independent contractors. It can happen when an employer requires employees to:

  • Work overtime;,
  • Work through breaks;
  • Come in early; or
  • Leave late.

By learning more about wage theft, you gain a better understanding of your rights as an employee. Everyone is entitled to fair pay. If you think you or your co-workers are victims of this crime, talk to a legal professional.

Haffner Law will help you make sense of the situation. We are prepared to go to court to make sure you and your co-workers are given your due. Call us at 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637) to schedule a consultation.

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Wage and Hour Lawsuits: Why are They on the Rise?

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It is clearly stated in the Fair Labor Standards Act: employees are entitled to a federal minimum wage and an overtime premium pay of one and a half or 150 percent of their regular pay rate for all hours worked over the typical 40 hours in a workweek.

However, if the rise of lawsuits against employers regarding this is any indication, it would seem that many employers are not complying with the law.

The Rise of Wage and Hour Litigation

According to the annual statistics from United States Courts, since 2000, the rate of wage and hour cases filed has continued to increase, albeit not in a linear fashion. In 2000, the U.S. Courts reported only 1,935 wage and hour cases filed. Since then, that number has risen considerably and from 2012, the number of cases has consistently ranged between 7,500 and 8,781. These numbers are equal to an increase of about 450 percent since 2000.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law in 1938 to establish a federal minimum wage, an overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor standards, which affect workers in different sectors.

In California, the Labor Code requires an increase in the state’s minimum wage each year. Today, the minimum wage is $12 per hour for businesses with 26 or more employees. This rate is higher than the current federal minimum wage stated in the FLSA, which is $7.25 per hour.

When employers fail to comply with the federal or state wage and hour laws, they are likely to face class action lawsuits, leading to expensive settlements with workers. But what are employers doing—or not doing—that results in their workers filing for wage and hour suits?

A Greater National Focus on Wages

Laws regarding minimum wage have become a major political issue across the country. The $7.25 federal minimum hourly rate hasn’t changed since 2009 and only 32 states have higher minimum wages than the federal one.

Before the 2016 elections, presidential candidates spoke at length about issues regarding wages. All that talk may have generated a greater awareness about wage and hour policies in employees and employers, alike.

A Proper Guideline on Employee Classification

Misclassification has been a prevalent problem in different industries. This happens when, for tax purposes, companies treat workers more like independent contractors and less like employees. This practice allows employers to evade payroll taxes and proper compensation, minimum wage, and overtime pay for workers.

Employees who have been denied wages may be able to file a class action lawsuit where other employees have similar issues.

Increased Awareness in Employees About Their Right to Sue

Over the years, employees have become increasingly aware of their ability to sue their employees when they think there are missteps in management. This is especially true in their status classifications, hours worked claims, and overtime pay calculations.

The Value of Proper Legal Representation for Employees

According to statistics, the food industry sees the most wage and hour lawsuits. With Los Angeles being the fastest-growing state for food manufacturing, employees here can benefit greatly from proper representation in class action lawsuits with the help of a Los Angeles class action lawyer from Haffner Law.

If you’re on the receiving end of improper wages, no overtime pay, or unfair work hours, you can turn to us for representation. Contact us today at 1-844-HAFFNER (423-3637).

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