Meal and Rest Break Employment Lawyer in San Diego

At the Jackson Law Firm, our experienced attorneys exclusively represent plaintiff employees in actions against their current or former employers. Fighting to preserve and protect the rights of employees throughout San Diego for more than 40 years, the Jackson Law Firm is proud to offer personalized, one on one representation to all of our clients.

If your employer has wrongfully denied you the mandatory meal and rest breaks required by California law, please complete our Employment Law Case Evaluation Form and one of our seasoned employee rights attorneys will contact you to thoroughly review your case with you.

For immediate assistance, call (858) 552-4900 for a complimentary telephonic consultation. Our lawyers take calls during regular office hours, and you will never be required to explain the facts pertaining to your dispute with a secretary or paralegal. Evening and weekend office appointments are available upon request and availability for the convenience of our clients.

San Diego Employment Law – Meal Break Attorneys

Meal Breaks

According to Labor Code Section 512(a), employees in California who work more than 5 hours a day are entitled to a 30 minute meal period. Employees who work more than 10 hours are entitled to two meal breaks.  Meal breaks must be continuous periods during which the employee is relieved of all duty.

“Continuous” means your employer cannot say you can take 15 minutes at one point and another 15 minutes at another point.  This does not qualify as a meal period.

“Relieved of duty” means you have to be free to ignore work and use the time in whatever manner you like, including leaving your employer’s premises. If you are not free to leave the work place or are required to interrupt your meal period for even a minute or two, you have not been given the legally required meal period.

Unless all of a business’s operations cease (such as on a construction site where a whistle blows and everyone stops work) employers are required to keep track of meal breaks. If you punch in and out on a time clock at the beginning and end of the day, you are also required to punch in and out for lunch.  If this isn’t done, the law presumes no lunch break was given.

Employers do not have to pay you for your meal period time.  However, if you work through your meal period, your employer is required to pay you at your normal rate of pay even though you were perfectly free to take your meal break. 

In accordance with Labor Code Section 226.7(c), an employer who fails to make the legally required meal breaks available owes each employee denied the break one extra hour’s pay for each day the meal break was denied.

If an employer does not allow you to take a meal break and deducts half an hour based on the fiction you did take a meal break, you are owed 1½ hours pay for each day the break was denied – the ½ hour’s pay that was improperly deducted and the extra hour’s pay because the meal period was not allowed.

Meal Period Waivers

Normal Meal periods can be waived under two circumstances:

1. If you work less than 6 hours a day, the meal period can be entirely waived by mutual consent. This means you have to agree to it and your agreement can be withdrawn at any time.

2. “On duty” meal periods are allowed only if actually necessary and agreed to in writing. “Actually necessary” means the situation is such that anyone would agree that it would be impractical for you to be off duty for 30 minutes. Single security guards, sole cashiers at gas station kiosks or in all night convenience stores generally qualify. 

The fact you are the only receptionist in an office normally typically does not serve as a waiver. The fact your employer thinks he needs you on duty all the time is irrelevant – an on duty meal period has to be actually necessary in the eyes of an independent viewer. You have to be paid for an on-duty meal period and the writing authorizing the on duty period has to say you can revoke the agreement at any time.

San Diego Employment Lawyers – Rest Breaks

Employers in California are required to allow their employees to take rest breaks in addition to meal breaks. 

If you work between 3½ and 6½ hours you are entitled one rest break. If you work more than 6 ½ hours you are entitled to two rest breaks. If you work more than 10 hours, you get three breaks and if you work 14 hours, you get four. Rest breaks are supposed to be as close to the middle of each work period to the extent practical.

Employees are entitled rest breaks for which they are paid and that are net, continuous and relieved of duty.

“Net” means that time may have to be added to the 10 minutes to allow you to reach a suitable place for your break. This is why many employers give 15 minute breaks; to allow employees to reach a “break room,” spend 10 minutes in the break room and then return to their work station.

“Continuous” means your employer cannot say you were doing nothing for 2 minutes at one point, did nothing for 3 minutes later on and then did nothing for 5 minutes still later, add up the time and say you got your break.  You are entitled to 10 minutes of continuous and uninterrupted time.

“Relieved of duty” means you have to be free to ignore work. If you are a receptionist, cashier, store clerk, etc. and you have to stay at or near your work station and be available to take care of any customers who may show up, you have not been given a break. This is true even if no customers do show up. Moreover, rest room breaks do not count as rest breaks.

Employers are not permitted to discourage employees from taking rest breaks and cannot enter into agreements with employees whereby the employees waive their right to take breaks. Your right to rest breaks is non-waivable. 

In accordance with Labor Code Section 226.7(c), an employer who fails to make rest breaks available owes each employee denied breaks one extra hour’s pay for each day a rest break is denied.

Call an Experienced Employment Law Firm Today for Additional Information

If you have questions about your right to take meal breaks or rest breaks, or if you believe that your employer has violated the obligation to provide breaks, please contact the Jackson Law Firm at (858) 552-4900 to speak with a San Diego Employment Attorney with extensive experience holding employers accountable for violating your rights.

Conveniently located in Sorrento Valley, we represent clients who work throughout San Diego County in a wide variety of Employment Law disputes, and have prevailed against some of the largest and most powerful Employment Defense Law Firms in the nation.

When experience is crucial, call the Jackson Law Firm and learn how we can help you obtain the justice and monetary compensation to which you are entitled.


The information you obtain at this site

is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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