What to do if your employer is violating meal and rest break laws

In California, employees have the right to take meal and rest periods. However, there are employees who are unaware of this. In addition, some of them could be unsure how to respond when their employers violate the laws on meal and rest breaks.

According to the California Labor Code, nonexempt employees must generally have a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five hours a day. Additionally, they should have a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. If you believe your employer is violating California’s meal and rest break laws, how can you protect your rights and seek justice?

Document the violations

An employee can start by keeping a detailed record of every instance where their employer violated meal and rest break laws. Since such documentation can serve as evidence, they should note the date, time and duration of the break or the failure to provide a break. They can also include any relevant conversations with their employer.

Communicate with your employer

In some cases, an employer may be unaware that they are violating the law. Therefore, an employee can respectfully converse with their employer or HR department to explain the issue. The employer may rectify the situation, making further action unnecessary.

Seek resolution

If an employer does not address the issue, an employee can consider filing a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office. They can investigate the claim and potentially order the employer to pay penalties for the violations.

Furthermore, an employee may file a lawsuit against their employer or resort to alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or arbitration. In an alternative dispute resolution process, a neutral third party can help the two parties reach an agreement.

Protect yourself from retaliation

Moreover, state law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights or file complaints. If an employee experiences retaliation, they must document it and consider seeking resolution via appropriate authorities.

Ensuring fairness in the workplace

Navigating meal and rest break issues can be complex and challenging. With legal advice, you may understand and protect your rights while taking a step toward ensuring fair treatment in your workplace.