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Rest breaks are essential to employee well-being and productivity in the workplace. In fact, employers are required to give workers breaks during the workday under California law. Unfortunately, some employers disregard the physical and mental health needs of their workers — and ignore their legal obligations.
If you work for an employer who denied you the rest breaks to which you’re entitled by law, you may be able to take legal action. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we know that standing up for your rights in the workplace might seem insurmountable. We are dedicated to guiding our clients through the legal process to help them obtain a positive outcome to their rest break violation dispute.
California has stringent laws in place to ensure workers are treated fairly by their employers. Under California employment law, all non-exempt employees must be provided with rest breaks throughout the day, based on the length of their shifts. However, some employers try to get as much work out of their employees as possible and violate the rest break law in doing so.
For every four hours — or major fraction of four hours — worked, an employee must be permitted to take a 10-minute paid rest break. The break should be as close to the middle of the rest period as possible if permitted by the nature of the work. Rest breaks are not legally required if a shift is less than three and a half hours. Employers must also provide a reasonable amount of break time should an employee need lactation accommodation.
Common ways employers violate the California rest break law include:
It’s crucial to be aware that employers must not only provide time for rest breaks, but they also must ensure that there is an appropriate place for employees to rest. Critically, the rest break period is a “net” ten minutes. In other words, the break can only commence once you are outside of the area where work is performed. In addition, breaks must be uninterrupted and your employer must not require you to be “on call” or perform any work-related duties during your ten-minute rest period.
If your employer did not comply with the California rest break law or compelled you to work during your rest period, you might be eligible to receive compensation. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we are committed to advocating for workers who have been wronged by their employers’ workplace violations. We offer knowledgeable counsel as we work tirelessly to hold your employer responsible for their illegal actions.
Although most non-exempt employees qualify for the protections of California’s rest break law, it’s important to take note that there are some exceptions. Significantly, the law does not apply to workers who are independent contractors, rather than employees. However, it’s not uncommon for employers to misclassify employees as independent contractors — inadvertently or intentionally — to avoid their legal obligations. In determining whether a worker labeled as an independent contractor should be classified as an employee and given the same rights under the wage and hour laws, courts in California turn to a set of criteria known as the “ABC” test.
While employees are free to forego their rest breaks if they choose, the employer must still make rest periods available to them. The rest break law also doesn’t apply to employees who are “exempt” under applicable exemptions, such as the executive, administrative, or professional exemptions.
California rest break law can be highly nuanced. If you have been deprived of rest breaks by your employer, it’s best to speak with an employment law attorney who can evaluate the facts of your specific case and determine the best course of action. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we handle every case with the utmost skill and attention to detail to help ensure positive results for our clients.
Rest breaks are critical to recharge and refresh during a long workday. They can also be integral to prevent burnout and improve job satisfaction. If your employer failed to allow you to take uninterrupted ten-minute breaks at the legally required intervals — and failed to properly compensate you for the missed rest period — you may be entitled to compensation.
If an employer doesn’t authorize or permit you to take one or more of your legally entitled rest breaks, you must be paid for one additional hour of work at your regular pay rate for each day there was a violation. If your employer refuses to compensate you, you may be entitled to pursue legal action to recover your monetary damages. You have three years from the date the rest break violation occurred to bring a claim.
Offering unyielding advocacy for every client, our attorneys understand that your rest break violation claim is about much more than a ten-minute rest period. It’s about ensuring your employer is held accountable for abuse of their power in the workplace and preventing these wrongs from happening again. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we devote all our time to protecting the rights of employees who have been subjected to wrongful practices in the workplace — and strive to secure the compensation they deserve.
It might seem like an uphill battle to stand up against your employer for a rest break violation. Having an experienced employment law attorney on your side can make all the difference. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we will fight for the pay you deserve for the rest period you were improperly denied. Contact us to schedule a consultation.