Meal and Rest Break Protections in California

Surprisingly, your meal and rest breaks hold significant importance under California’s state laws. Douglas Han of Justice Law Corporation observed that “in California, employees are entitled to a 30-minute uninterrupted meal period every five hours for shifts lasting six hours or more, and a 10-minute uninterrupted rest period every four hours or any greater fraction thereof. A lesser known fact is that employees are eligible for an additional hour’s pay if compelled to work through their breaks.”

Douglas Han from the Justice Law Corporation stresses that breaks are important for one’s well-being as failure to rest can get workers to overwork, stress, have anxiety, and bring about burnout. These laws are made deliberately to reduce such cases of overworking by the employees and exploitation done by the employer. Within the historical context of labor rights violations by businesses dating as far back as Victorian London, these regulations serve to act as checks on businesses and at the same time also uphold the dignity of the laborers. They are robustly upheld, with legal precedents such as case law in Brinker Restaurant Corp v. Superior Court that went before the highest court of California and codified employer’s obligations in regard to meal and rest breaks in detail. As such, employers shall not impede or discourage employees from taking their 30-minute meal breaks and shall provide employees with a reasonable opportunity to do so.

However, despite these provisions, many employees have found themselves practically compelled to work through their meal and rest breaks. Douglas Han of the Justice Law Corporation explains a few reasons such as using breaks for essential, off-the-clock business, work-related discussions with supervisors or co-workers, being called back to work, and waiting in line to clock back in for lunch.

If you think your rights to meal or rest breaks have been violated, there may be a possibility to seek damages from your employer. It is important to document the instances of non-compliance before securing the representation of a reputable law firm should one opt to get into litigation. California has a very strong emphasis on the rights of laborers, and it does not shirk from urging individuals to voice out if they have seen or heard about employers ill-treating or exploiting employees.

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