Can You Sue Your Employer for Not Giving You Breaks in California?

If you are a California worker, you may be wondering if your employer is required to give you meal and rest breaks. While federal law does not require employers to offer workers break periods throughout the day, California’s meal and rest break laws differ greatly.

Nonexempt California Employees are Entitled to Meal and Rest Breaks

If you are a nonexempt employee in California, your employer is required to give you meal and rest breaks if you work a certain number of hours in a day. A nonexempt employee is eligible under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to earn overtime for any extra hours worked, as opposed to exempt employees who are usually salaried and do not need to account for all hours they work. If you are unsure of your status, speak to your human resources department before making a complaint.

California Meal Break Requirements

California labor law requires employers to provide meal breaks to certain employees. Your employer must abide by the following meal break requirements if you are considered nonexempt:

  • Your California employer must provide you with a 30-minute meal break after you work five hours in one day. You can waive your meal period if you are not working more than 6 hours.
  • Your California employer is required to give you two meal breaks, each consisting of 30 minutes, if you work more than 10 hours during a single workday. However, you can waive the second meal break if your shift does not exceed 12 hours, and you did not waive your first 30-minute meal break.
  • Under California law, you are allowed to take your meal breaks off work premises if you feel so inclined.
  • Under California law, you are not required to work during your meal breaks.

Are meal breaks paid?

Your employer does not have to pay you during meal breaks in California. However, you can sign an agreement with your manager or supervisor to take on-duty meal breaks which are paid.

California Rest Break Requirements

California labor law also requires employers to provide rest breaks to certain employees. If you are a nonexempt employee, your employer must abide by the following rest break requirements: 

  • Your California employer must provide you with one ten-minute rest break if you work at least 3.5 hours in a workday.
  • Rest breaks should be provided to you in the middle of a work period if the nature of your job allows for it.
  • For every four hours worked in a day, your employer is required to give you a rest break of at least 10 minutes.
  • Your employer is not required to permit you to leave work premises during a rest break.
  • Under California law, you are not required to work during a rest break.
  • Under California law, you can skip a rest break if you feel you do not need it.

Are rest breaks paid?

Unlike meal breaks, your employer must pay you when you take rest breaks in the state of California.

Can I sue my employer for not giving me breaks in California?

If your employer violates California meal and rest break laws, you may be able to sue your boss for not giving you meal or rest breaks. In California, employers are responsible for ensuring that employees are relieved from their work duties during their meal and rest breaks. If your employer denies you a break, or does not pay you during your rest break, they can suffer the consequences. In fact, if your employer does not comply with California meal and rest break laws, they can be required to pay you for one extra hour of regular pay for each workday on which a violation occurred.

There are exceptions to these requirements when it comes to working in certain industries like healthcare, manufacturing, and others.

How to Sue Your Employer for Not Giving You Breaks

Nonexempt workers in California are entitled to meal and rest break periods under state laws. Due to strict filing deadlines for meal and rest break violations, it is important to contact an experienced employment and labor attorney right away if you feel that your employer is violating these laws. Contact our Los Angeles employment lawyers for a free consultation today.