As lawyers for the workers, we make sure that employers pay you for the long hours you put in and give you the wages you are owed.
Although there is no federal law outlining workers’ rights to take regular meal and rest breaks during the workday, many states do have such protections. Almost half of all states require employers to provide their employees with scheduled, unpaid meal breaks, and several also require mandatory, paid rest breaks throughout the workday. These breaks are granted based on the employee’s status, the number of hours worked, and other factors.
Additionally, if an employer offers meal or rest breaks, whether or not there are laws mandating they do so, federal law states that the employer must pay their employees for those breaks if:
- There is a state law requiring paid breaks
- The break lasts 20 minutes or less
- The employee works through their break time
If you believe your employer violated your state’s meal and rest break laws, reach out to Josephson Dunlap right away. You could have a wage and hour claim, and our team can help. With more than two decades of legal experience and hundreds of millions of dollars recovered, our meal and rest break violation lawyers are prepared to fight for you and your rights.
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In states with mandatory meal and rest breaks, employers typically do not have to pay for “longer” meal breaks of 30 minutes or more. For “shorter” rest breaks of 20 minutes or less or 10 minutes or less (depending on the state), employers must compensate employees.
Not all states have meal or rest break laws. However, if your employer offers meal or rest breaks, they must pay you for any rest break that is 20 minutes or less in length. If your employer voluntarily offers longer rest or meal breaks, they do not have to pay you for that time—unless you work through or during part of your meal break.
How the Meal & Rest Break Violation Attorneys at Josephson Dunlap Can Help
When your employer fails to provide the required meal or rest breaks, or fails to pay you for time worked during such breaks, you have the right to seek fair compensation for your lost wages, backpay, and other damages. At Josephson Dunlap, we help clients nationwide fight to protect their rights.
Our meal and rest break violation lawyers have extensive experience handling these types of claims. We have helped more than 100,000 clients in all types of industries hold employers accountable when they cheat workers out of fair wages. As your legal team, we will handle every detail of your case, from gathering documentation and other evidence to advocating for a fair settlement on your behalf. If necessary, we are even prepared to take your case to court.
Common Meal & Rest Break Violations
There are many ways in which an employer may violate an employee’s right to regular rest breaks and meals.
Some examples include:
- Failing to provide employees with mandatory meal and rest breaks, per state law
- Interrupting an employee’s break/making them work during part or all of their break
- Making an employee take their break too late in the workday, per state law
- Manipulating timecards to indicate an employee took a break when they did not
- Forcing an employee to stay on the premises during an unpaid meal break
- Controlling employees’ activities during scheduled breaks without pay
- Impeding reasonable opportunities for employees to take their breaks
- Discouraging employees from taking scheduled breaks
Note that your employer does not have a legal obligation to ensure you take your break. If they provide you with a reasonable ability to take your break, but you do not do so, you may not have a claim.
For example, if you work in an administrative role at an office where you are required to clock out for lunch each day, but you choose to eat at your desk and check emails while clocked out for lunch, you likely do not have a case. If, however, your employer makes you stay and answer emails while clocked out for lunch, you could have grounds for legal action.
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