Meal and Rest Break Lawyers

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Can a Boss Dictate When Workers Can Take a Break?

Yes, an employer can tell workers where and when they can eat and drink on the job. In a majority of states employers must grant ten minute rest periods every four hours.  However, no rest period is necessary if total daily work time is less than three and a half hours.  No deduction from wages may be made for authorized rest time.  If possible, a rest period should be in the middle of each work period.

What Are a Worker's Rights On Taking Lunch?

With the exception of the broadcasting and motion picture industries, the rule for meal periods is that no person may be employed for a work period of more than five hours without a meal period of not less than 30 minutes.  However, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent if a work period of not more than six hours will complete the day's work.  Unless the employee is completely relieved of duty, the meal period must be considered time worked.  Also, if employees must eat on the premises, a suitable place for that purpose must be designated

Are Workers Injured During Lunch Or a Break Covered By Workers' Compensation Insurance?

If an employee is injured at lunch it is usually considered outside the scope of the employment relationship unless the employee was not completely relieved of their duties during the lunch hour.  The nature and place of the injury are also strong considerations.  An employee injured during a break is likely to be considered within the scope of employment and thus eligible for workers' compensation insurance.  

Can a Boss Interrupt My Lunch Or Work Break For Work-Related Items?

This is an issue that depends mainly on the nature of the interruption.  If the boss is interrupting a break to attempt to deny a worker their breaks and occurs regularly, then workers may have a grievance that they may present.  In the event of an emergency or urgent work-related item that occurs very rarely, however, the boss is probably not wrong to interrupt a break.  

What Type Of Claim Could I Make?

Denying workers breaks is a violation of Wage and Labor Laws which can create a great deal of trouble for the company with government authorities.  However, the worker may also be able to claim back wages for as long as their breaks were denied, which may constitute overtime pay.  

An employer may counter this, however, if a worker who eats at their work station and attempts to do work is ordered by the employer or by the human resources department to stop. 

Do I Need an Employment Attorney?

An experienced employment attorney is capable of informing you of your rights and evaluating whether you have a valid grievance against your employer.  If you are an employer, an employment attorney can also make sure you are in compliance with all state and federal meal and rest break laws.

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Last Modified: 11-20-2013 12:31 PM PST

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