San Diego Meal & Rest Breaks Lawyer

Has your employer failed to provide the breaks you are entitled to? A San Diego meal & rest breaks lawyer can help you fight for the unpaid wages you are owed. Ferraro Vega represents clients in all types of employment litigation, contact us at (619) 693-7727 for a free consultation.

California offers among the strongest meal and rest break laws in the United States which are more accommodating than federal protections. We are here to help. You may be entitled to compensation for your missed breaks.

How Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers Can Help with Your Meal and Rest Break Dispute

Meal Break

Despite the strong protection California employment law offers to employees, wage and hour violations are still common. Your employer may use many tactics to get around giving you the rest and meal breaks you are entitled to, including encouraging or forcing you to keep working through a break, failing to pay for rest breaks, or misclassifying you.

When your employer violates your rights and fails to give you the breaks you deserve, an employment lawyer in San Diego can help you recover the unpaid wages you are entitled to. Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers works exclusively on employment litigation to represent workers in all industries in San Diego, California. Our employment lawyers spent years working with some of the largest law firms in the U.S. and we put this experience to work for you.

Choose Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers to represent you and count on us to:

  • Ensure you are classified properly and assess which types of breaks you are entitled to
  • Conduct an investigation into your case to determine which labor laws your employer violated
  • Determine if other employees were affected to consider a class action or PAGA claim
  • Ensure all reporting steps are taken
  • Gather evidence to determine the type and number of breaks you have been denied
  • Negotiate with your employer to reach a fair resolution
  • File a lawsuit if a settlement offer can’t be reached 

Contact Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers today to discuss your case with a San Diego meal and rest breaks lawyer. We work on a contingency-fee basis to give you the legal advice and representation you deserve without out-of-pocket costs.

What Are My Rights to Meal Breaks in San Diego?

California wage and hour laws are very strict in requiring meal breaks for employees. A meal break does not have to be paid, but it must be a 30-minute period that is uninterrupted. Non-exempt employers have the legal right to meal breaks when they work a certain number of hours under California Labor Code Section 512.

The meal period does not need to be used for a meal, and employers are not required to provide their employees with food.

The number of meal breaks you are entitled to depends on the hours worked during your shift. If your shift is five hours or less, you are not entitled to a meal period. You are entitled to one 30-minute meal period if you work more than five hours and two meal breaks if you work ten or more hours.

The first meal break must begin before the end of your fifth hour on shift. If you are entitled to a second break, it must begin before the end of your tenth hour.

The first meal break can be waived by mutual consent if the employee works six or fewer hours, but it can’t be waived if the employee works more than six hours.  

While the meal break must be uninterrupted for the full 30 minutes and the employee must not be forced to do any work tasks, there are some exceptions. On-duty meal breaks do not require that you be relieved of your duties, but they must be paid. They are only allowed when both parties agree in writing and the nature of the work prevents the employee from being relieved.

What Rest Break Rights Do I Have in San Diego, CA?

California Labor Code also grants non-exempt employees the right to adequate rest breaks. In San Diego, you are entitled to a rest period of at least ten minutes for every four hours of work per day. These rest breaks must be paid and be as close to the middle of your work period as possible.

You are only entitled to a rest break if you work at least four hours. You are, however, entitled to a rest period if you work a major fraction of a four-hour work period after that. For example, if you work six-and-a-half hours, you are entitled to two rest breaks: one for the first four hours and another for the other two-and-a-half hours.

As a general rule, only non-exempt employees in California are entitled to rest breaks.

Which Employees Are Entitled to Meal and Rest Breaks?

Coffee Break

Meal and rest breaks in California mostly apply to non-exempt employees. Exempt employees are often entitled to unpaid meal breaks, but most are not eligible for paid or unpaid rest breaks. The same is true for overtime laws in California.

The largest group of exempt employees is white-collar workers. 

To meet the definition of an exempt employee, you must meet all of these requirements:

  • Spend more than 50% of your time doing creative, managerial, or executive tasks,
  • Regularly exercise independent judgment and discretion in performing your work duties, and
  • Earn a salary at least twice the minimum wage in California for a full-time employee. 

Exempt employees may not be entitled to rest breaks, but they are still entitled to meal breaks. An employer must give exempt employees an unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes if they work more than five hours in a day unless they work for six or fewer hours. A second meal break must be provided if they work more than ten hours in a day.

Some exempt employees are still entitled to meal and rest breaks, however. The best way to determine if your job entitles you to these breaks is to discuss your case with experienced San Diego labor lawyers.

There are some industry-specific exceptions to rest and meal break rules. This includes employees in healthcare, motion picture, construction, and commercial driving industries.

You may also be outside these meal and break requirements if you are an independent contractor or you belong to a union in an industry with a collective bargaining agreement that provides for breaks on a different schedule.

Note that employers in California sometimes misclassify employees as exempt or independent contractors to get around overtime, meal, and rest break requirements.

Can I Be Required to Be On-Call or Work During a Break?

California labor law is very clear: a break should be a complete break from work. Your employer cannot require that you work through your break or stay on-call. They also cannot encourage you to do so. This is the same as denying you a break.

You do have the right to continue working during a break as your employer does not need to prevent you from doing so.

There are few exceptions to this rule. The primary exception is an on-duty meal break.

Am I Entitled to Paid Breaks in San Diego?

Under California employment law, some breaks must be paid. It depends on not only your employment classification and the type of break but other circumstances.

Only non-exempt employees are usually entitled to rest breaks. These breaks must be paid.

Meal breaks are usually unpaid but both exempt and non-exempt employees are entitled to them. A meal break must be paid, however, if you are required to keep working through your break, also called an on-duty meal break. Your break must also be paid if you cannot leave your worksite for the meal break.

Can I Sue My Employer for Violating Break Laws in San Diego?

California Law

California employees have the right to sue their employer for wage and hour violations under federal law or the California Labor Code.

When your employer fails to provide you with the meal and rest breaks you are entitled to, you are entitled to fair compensation. California employment law entitles you to one hour of extra pay at your regular hourly rate for a missed break. You can earn up to one extra hour per workday for missed rest breaks and another hour per workday for missed meal breaks.

An employer cannot get around this duty by, for example, allowing for an hour-long break and assuming it counts as all meal and rest breaks for the day: these breaks must be spread out and not combined.

If you cannot resolve a meal or rest break dispute informally with your employer, you have the right to file a lawsuit. You can also file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The DLSE can investigate your case and issue a citation to your employer that requires them to pay the unpaid wages you are owed as well as penalties.  

Schedule a Free Consultation with a San Diego Meal and Rest Breaks Lawyer

Has your employer denied you the uninterrupted meal breaks and rest breaks you are entitled to? At Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, we will help you fight for the full wages and penalties you deserve. Contact our law firm to discuss your case with a San Diego meal and rest breaks lawyer who will help you hold your employer accountable. We will also help you enforce your rights against any retaliation.