California Meal and Rest Break Law
If you aren’t sure about California break laws, and you feel your rights as an employee have been violated because your employer failed to give you proper meal and rest breaks, contact the skilled California meal and rest break lawyer Drew Lewis who can help you get the fair treatment and compensation you deserve.

Who is Covered by California Meal and Rest Break Laws?

Under California break law, most, but not all, employees are entitled to meal and rest breaks.  Employees entitled to breaks are commonly referred to as exempt or nonexempt employees.  An exempt employee is an employee who is exempt from overtime, meal & rest break law.
All employees are presumed to be non-exempt unless they fall into one of the following categories of occupations.
  • Administrative
  • Professional
  • Executive
  • Computer Professional
  • Outside Salespersons
Even if your job falls into one of these categories, you still have to past the extremely strict exemption test.  If you do not, you are non-exempt and entitled to breaks.
The California meal and rest break law exemption test requires:
  • You must be paid no less than 2x the California minimum wage;
  • Your job duties cannot be rote, routine, mechanical or involve manual labor;
  • You have to exercise discretion and independent judgment in matters of significance (company policy type decisions).
While these are three main requirements of the test, the test varies slightly depending on the profession you are in. Because these are very fact specific questions, you should consult with a California meal and rest break lawyer to assess whether you have been properly classified because employers commonly engage in exempt employee misclassification where they classify nonexempt workers as exempt employees to avoid providing meal and rest breaks.
If you do not meet these requirements (and it is your employer’s responsibility to prove it, not yours), the you are a non-exempt employee and are protected by California labor laws, which includes the requirement to be provided meal and rest breaks.

What Are the California Break Laws?

The California meal and rest break laws entitle all non-exempt employees to a meal and rest break if they work a long enough shift.  While your employer does not have to force you to take your break, they do have to provide you with the opportunity and cannot discourage or prevent you from doing so.  If they do, they have violated the California break laws.

California Meal Break Laws:

If you are non-exempt, you are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid meal break for every five hour shift worked during the day.  To be a valid legal meal break, it must be:
  • The meal break must last at least 10 minutes
  • The meal break must be uninterrupted by your job
  • During the meal break, you must be relieved of all duties (you can’t be required to stick around or keep your phone with you)
  • During the meal break, you must have the right to leave the job site
If you work more than 10 hours in a day, you are entitled to a second 30-minute meal break. This break can only be waived if you did not waive the first break and will work less than 12 hours total for the day.

California Rest Breaks Laws:

A rest break is required for every shift of four hours (so long as the shift is at least three and a half hours or more) worked during the day. To be a valid legal rest break, it must meet the following requirements:
  • The rest break must be paid
  • The rest break must last at least 10 minutes
  • The rest break must be uninterrupted by your job
  • During the rest break, you must be relieved of all duties (you can’t be required to stick around or keep your phone with you)
  • During the rest break, you must have the right to leave the job site
It is important to understand your company cannot require you to combine meal breaks and rest breaks. This means that depending on the number of hours you work, you might be entitled to both rest and meal breaks.
For example, during an eight-hour shift, an employee should get a rest break during the first four hours worked, a rest break during the last four hours worked, and a meal break (usually in the middle).

Common Violations of California Meal and Rest Break Laws

There are numerous ways in which employer deny their employees on a daily basis of their meal and rest break rights.  However, in our experience, there are some common patterns that many cases follow:
  • Not having enough employees cover a shift. Some employers fail to staff their business with enough people to allow someone to take a break. Often times this will happen in businesses that have only a single person working the night shift. Unless the business owner allows the worker to close down during his/her 10-minute or 30-minute breaks, any “break” taken is invalid because it was on-call.
  • Failing to separately pay rest breaks for commission-only salespersons. Most commission-only salespersons have to be paid separately for their paid rest breaks. This is a relatively recent development in the law and many employers are unaware of this requirement.
  • Not providing timely breaks. Meal breaks and rest breaks have to be provided during strict timeframes. Many employers who have urgent or time-sensitive projects or tasks fail to allow their employees to take breaks at the appropriate time during the day. This is a violation of the law.

How Much Money Can You Recover For Violation of Your Meal and Rest Break Rights?

When an employer violates an employee’s rights to meal or rest breaks, that employee is entitled to be compensated. The employee can bring a claim against their employer to get that compensation which can include an additional hour of pay for each day a meal or rest break is denied.
These claims can be difficult, so it is important to have the help of a skilled California Employment Law attorney who can assist with bringing the claim.

Talk to a California Meal and Rest Break Lawyer

Not all attorneys are created equal.  Do you want someone that aggressively fights for you, that chases every last nickel your employer stole from you and who does not give discounts?  To have the best opportunity for success, you should hire an attorney experienced in meal & rest break violation cases.
These cases require experience and skill. Going up against your employer can feel daunting, but not if you have the help of a knowledgeable attorney by your side. Let us help.

Our meal and rest break lawyers are experienced in handling these types of cases.

Drew Lewis, PC, led by its lead trial attorney Drew Lewis, has years of experience representing employees who have had their meal and rest break rights violated.
Drew has recovered millions of dollars for his clients.  He understands how employers try to hide the facts and how to prove meal and rest break violation cases.  And he does not give discounts to employers who have stolen from their workers.
We offer a free case evaluation. And you do not pay us unless we win your case.

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