California law requires all employers to provide proper compensation to their employees including providing legally required meal and rest breaks.  If an employer fails to provide employees with the legally mandated meal and rest periods, it has committed what is generally referred to as a “wage and hour” violation.

All non‑exempt employees in California are entitled to a 10 minute rest break for every four hours worked.  Employers are also required to provide employees with at least a 30 minute meal break if they work in excess of five hours in a day and if they work more than 10 hours in one day then they are entitled to a second meal period of at least 30 minutes. During this meal break an employee cannot be performing any duties of work and must be permitted to leave the premises, otherwise the meal period time counts as time worked.  The same is true for rest breaks.

With certain exceptions, an employee is generally considered non‑exempt unless he or she is in a management, administrative or professional position.  Determining whether or not an employee is exempt or non‑exempt is based on his or her duties, not on how the employee is paid so even salaried employees can be non‑exempt.  Also, job titles are irrelevant to determining if an employee is exempt or non‑exempt.  For instance, just because an employee has been designated as a “manager” or has the word “manager” is her or his job title doesn’t necessarily meant that the employee is exempt.  It is the actual job duties that are important in deciding whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt.

Assuming the employee is non-exempt, under California law, if an employer fails to give an employee the appropriate meal break under the law, an employee may be entitled to recover one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for each workday where a meal break was not provided. However, there are some exceptions to this rule regarding meal breaks.

The statue of limitations under the Federal Fair Labor and Standards Act is two years, but it is extended to three years for “willful” violations. The statute of limitations for wage claims under California law is generally four years from the time the compensation was due.

The Dean Law Group, with its decades of experience, is in position to help you sort out these complex employment issues.  Our experienced employment lawyers have had numerous trials, arbitrations and mediations, as well as handled many administrative proceedings.  The Dean Law Group’s attorneys practice in both California state and federal courts.