Legal news and tips for employees, by Law Office of Eugene Lee

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What Break Periods Am I Entitled To?

Under California law (which is much more generous to employees than federal law), if you are a non-exempt worker, you are entitled to meal and rest breaks: a 30-minute meal break if you work more than 5 hours in a workday, and 10 minutes breaks for every 4 hours you work. There are other requirements… Continue Reading

900 responses to “What Break Periods Am I Entitled To?”

  1. Miriam says:

    I’ve been on my job for 6 years. Things are getting out of hand. New employees are getting payed more than me and they are always trying to make me do more. I’m a caregiver I have tried to resign in 2013 for treating me bad but after they convinced me after many calls and a letter from my boss which I still have stating Im a great worker I returned to work. I work 12hr shifts 3/4 days a week I also work two or three 24hr shifts in a month. We don’t get breaks or lunch plus I haven’t received a raise since 2013 when I tried to quit. Everytime I work 24 hrs straight they pay me regular pay 8hrs and time and half 4hrs and the rest 12 hrs is cash and regular pay! They say that its regular pay because they deduct taxes themselves. This is in California

  2. Liondayz says:

    At my current job i have to mandatory take ny 30 min break aft 1.5 hours of being on the clock for example. I go in at 3pm and take my break at 4:30. Back to work at 5 until 10:30 i can take a 10 if im lucky. And then leave by 11:30 dometimes even 1 am. So anyways im always hungry and feeling weak since i cant eat is this ok? Because im getting very tired and weak every single day.

  3. Howard Mack says:

    I hired on with a agency that worked me from 7/7/16 until 9/12/16 with NO lunch breaks, can I sue my employer. I worked up to 16 hours a day sometimes. On 9/12 they made up this policy and emailed it to the employess stating lunches would be required as of 8/26. We asked if this policy was going to be retroactive to the policy date and we were told NO it wasn’t going to be applied backwards. When we got paid I noticed they had taken money out of my check. Can an employer do that without my consent? And to add insult to injury when I complained I was suspended the next day at work on an indefinite leave of abscence and I wasn’t paid my final wages. DO I NEED AN ATTY?

  4. CaliMom says:

    Hello there,
    I have not had rest breaks for 6 years at my place of employment in California. I work a 40 hour week and take just a 30 minute lunch daily.
    Recently our employer told us to take ten minute rest breaks after realizing I and others should be taking 2 ten minute rest breaks per day.
    1. Can I file a complaint with the EDD for the rest breaks I was not given for 6 years?
    2. Is it advisable to try to settle the unpaid rest breaks with employer first?
    2. And, for what portion of time is my employer responsible for paying the breaks retroactively? Is it one or three years or more?
    I also read that for each day they were in violation they must pay one extra hour of reguar ay per day.
    Thank you for your help!

  5. Ana says:

    I work for an orthodontics and we get 2 breaks within an 8 hour shift the only thing is that they always send us to break after 30 min that we clock in! for example i go in at 9 by 9:30 they send me to break! can they do that? its suppose to be a break but when i really need the break i dont get one because i had it right after i clock in

  6. GABE says:

    I work 8 hours most days but my lunch is never set. As in it always varies like today i havent taken a lunch break or any break really and i started at 8 am and its 3pm now. My boss said for me to right no lunch on my card or take my lunch before i go home today. Is that legal in california? I work in water remediation industry.

    • Levy says:

      Why didn’t you take a lunch break? You’re required by law to take your lunch. The reason why your boss wants you to write “no lunch” on your time card is to ensure you get paid for the time you worked and to ensure he’s safe from any legality issues since it was your decision not to take it. He also requested that you just take your lunch before you go home, so you don’t get paid overtime and that you’ll just get paid your normal 8 hour rate (assuming you work an 8-hour shift). As far as your lunch time never being set, that’s your issue. Just take your lunch at your halfway mark or after 6 hrs.

  7. Kgf says:

    I work at a gas station and all employees no matter how long the shift is are only entitled 1 thirty minute lunch. I’ve been here for 6 months and not once have I received a rest break even if I work 8hrs. Is this right?

  8. Pj says:

    In an 8 hr shift in a medical office is it correct to be required to take a 1 hour lunch break after 2 hours?

  9. CSerrano10 says:

    If I work a 5hr shift, do I have to take a meal break? If so, does it have to be 45min? Our company is saying this is the new meal break law in California.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Hi, I work as a Campus Supervisor at a Middle School, which is basically part security part guidance counselor. When I was promoted to this position almost a year ago, my direct supervisor made no mention of breaks me what so ever. My parter informed me that I could take my meal breaks after his. Since then I’ve pretty much worked from 8:00am until 2:00 or 3:00pm before getting a designated meal, and my shift ends at 4:00. Occasionally I get a chance to try to sit and get something quickly in my tummy before then, and there’s never been mention of a break after my lunch. What is required and what do you recommend?

  11. Quest says:

    i just quit my horrible job of 2.5 years. They gave me my last paycheck, but withheld my cash tips, my sales bonus and my quarterly bonus. They have no intention of paying me, I do have every intention of getting the money I earned, I just need to learn the process. Also I worked from 8:50 am to 7:00 pm, no lunch and no breaks. They had me sign a lunch waiver and paid me one hour for it, but no breaks-at all, ever. What can I or should I do about this. I would never have thought to do anything, but upon quitting I was treated very badly, solely for the reason that I just did not want to work there anymore-it was a hostile work environment that no one should ever have to deal with. Thanks for any help or suggestions!

  12. Zaferia Cambra says:

    Getting paid for 5.75 hours. Working 6.5 hours with a 45 minute unpaid lunch. Shouldn’t they pay me for 6 hours? Am I getting ripped off 15 min a day?

    • sam says:

      u retard do the math… ur getting payed for 5hrs 45min…… u worked 6hrs 30min minus your 45minute break which equals what? 5hrs and 45min… that’s elementary school shit

      • Isidro Viruel says:

        You retard hes talking about the 15 minute break (paid) we deserve for working more than 4 hours.

      • Eugene Lee says:

        I understood what he was asking. I didn’t think the question was dumb at all. He had understood that meal breaks are unpaid, but only up to 30 minutes. In fact, they can be unpaid up to 1 hour. After that, they may trigger split shift premiums.

    • Eugene Lee says:

      No you are not getting shorted on pay. Lunch breaks are unpaid. Lunch breaks can be up to 1 hour long and still be unpaid. If they go over 1 hour, then you might be entitled to a split shift premium.

      Rest breaks, on the other hand, are paid.

  13. Ashley Cotter says:

    I’m trying to not get in trouble at work. I work five hour shifts, and don’t get a lunch.

    I’m trying to find out how long my breaks are supposed to be.

    • Eugene Lee says:

      If you work exactly 5 hours or less, you are NOT entitled to a 30 minute meal break. Your work hours have to exceed 5 hours in order to get a meal break. If you work over 3.5 hours, however, you are entitled to one paid 10-minute rest break.

  14. pissed off says:

    Hello..I work 8 hours a day as an independent insurance agent. My boss says I absolutely HAVE to clock out for at LEAST 30 minutes for lunch every day. Is this a law?

  15. Needhelp says:

    I work in the kitchen of a restaurant. My boss tells the entire staff to come to work 30 minutes before scheduled time to take our meal breaks. So if I am on the clock at 3pm, I am to arrive at 2:30, break, and come back to work. Boss says it is not “reasonable” to allow us to leave in the middle of a busy dinner service so we have to break early.Regardless, the entire staff works through their meal breaks and most of us forget to clock back in after 30 minutes is up because we are stuck cooking and simply loose track of time. Now management is telling me if I accidentaly take a 35 or 45 minute break that I will be “written up and eventually terminated”, because our managers have to adjust our break times back when we forget to clock back in and its becoming a nuisance. I have been thinking about talking to a lawyer but I’m not sure if any of this is illegal. I also don’t really have any proof that I have been working through my breaks for the past two years. It seems as if it will be my word against theirs, and they have really good lawyers. I am one of the ones who regularly forgets my clock in time because I spend so much time off the clock (showing up early, working through breaks) that I need regular time adjustments by a manager. I am having a meeting with management on sunday and they plan to threaten me with termination. I don’t know what to do or say to them. Any suggestions would be welcomed! Thanks

  16. Edward Donald Hernandez says:

    My employer has us sign or I should say clock in at or before our call time. For example if my call time is 5:00 am I may clock in at 4:30am to be prepared to pre-trip my Bus to depart the lot at 5:15am. There have been times when either myself of another employee was made to speak with Management or view a section of video footage prior to our call time. We were not paid for said time or if it occurred after work hours and also during our split time which is also unpaid?

  17. Sarmiento says:

    I work in a restaurant. I always work shifts that are 7-8 hrs. My manager always MAKES me take a 30 min break two hours into my shift. Can he make me take a break that early… He also makes faces when i ask to take a 10min break and looks at me and says later… Does he have the right to do so?

    • Eugene Lee says:

      You must be allowed to take rest breaks as close to the middle of each 4 hour period as reasonably possible. Making faces and saying “later” qualifies as rest break denial if you aren’t ultimately allowed to take at least one 10-min rest break for each 4 hours worked.

      Lunch breaks are normally supposed to come after at least one 10-min rest break. Unless there is a very good business reason for not doing that, your boss is likely violating the meal break laws.

      • Sarmiento says:

        What would qualify as being a good business reason?
        And yes he doesn’t give me a ten min break at all.

        • Eugene Lee says:

          Just a few examples: you’re a paramedic and taking a rest break would mean the patient might die; you’re an air traffic controller and taking a rest break might result in planes crashing, etc.

  18. Aalf Alvarez says:

    Are bosses allowed to work you 3-4 hours straight without a break? Sometimes I work 4 hours straight without any kind of break then afteter the 3rd or 4th hour I take a lunch then 2 breaks after

    • Eugene Lee says:

      There should be at least one rest break before and one rest break after the meal break. Rest breaks are supposed to be permitted as close to the middle of each 4 hour period as possible. You may have a claim for rest break denial.

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Called as a Witness? Get Your Witness Fees

Have you ever been called to testify as a witness at a deposition (a “deposition” is a fancy way of saying a lawyer-conducted witness interview conducted under oath that is recorded by a court reporter) or at a trial? If so, then you have the right to recover “ordinary witness fees”. According to California Government… Continue Reading

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Discrimination Laws in California

Both Federal and California laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on an employee’s “protected characteristics”. Under California’s broad, pro-employee laws (perhaps the best in the US), “protected characteristics” mean: “race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation”. Types of Discrimination Continue Reading

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