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  • Lunch break law -

    Ive got question about lunch breaks: My wifes employer had previously never provided a lunch break area (for 10 years) AND at the end of each day, they would deduct 1/2 hour pay from every workday. No lunch break was actually ever taken. (Much less regular breaks) Is this legal? if not, whats her recourse?

    She was fine with working thru her lunch and breaks, but they're robbing her of 2.5 hours week pay for 52 weeks over 10 years. it adds up!

    Recently, my wifes employer has provided a break room and is now requiring employees to take their lunch break and regular breaks on site. My wife works as a vending machine Route Driver. She would work 6-7 hours straight making deliveries on the road, then return to the shop and reload her van getting ready for the next days work. She works 5 days and 40+ hours a week, paid hourly.

    I thought there was a law saying you had to take the lunch break within the first 6 hours?

    Ive searched thru the labor law on this and after hours of reading, gave up cross eyed! id appreciate any help on this issue!
    Last edited by BluecolarShawn; 03-25-2007, 07:08 AM.

  • #2
    BluecolarShawn: My wife's employer had previously never provided a lunch break area (for 10 years) AND at the end of each day, would deduct 1/2 hour pay from every workday. No lunch break was actually ever taken. Is this legal? if not, whats her recourse?

    It is NEVER legal to reduce an employee's pay by 1/2 hour if they actually worked during that 1/2 hour. Your wife's recourse is to (1) demand payment from her employer for the time they deducted, (2) file a complaint with the federal department of labor, (3) file a complaint with the state agency responsible for ensuring that employers comply with established labor laws, and/or (3) retain an attorney to sue for repayment on your wife's behalf.

    Note: Employees are not entitled to mandatory meal breaks based on federal law http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/breaks.htm. However, some states do require them. California, the state in which I practice, does require that employers provide meal breaks to employees, as dicussed more completely here http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MealPeriods.htm
    Barry S. Phillips, CPA
    www.BarryPhillips.com

    IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: This response is intended to provide general information and written for educational purposes only. It does not establish a client relationship. This communication is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to any party any matters addressed herein.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by BluecolarShawn View Post
      they're robbing her of 2.5 hours week pay for 52 weeks over 10 years. it adds up!
      That comes to 1300 hours, not including any overtime.

      The DOL will only go back two years (three for willful violations), so she is probably best off with a lawyer.

      Route drivers are another critter and different rules likely apply.
      Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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      • #4
        Whether either a lunch break or a lunch break area has to be provided is a matter of state law. You have not provided your state, so we can't tell you if any laws have been violated to that regard.

        However, as the other posters have indicated, it is never legal to deduct time for a break that was not actually taken.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by cbg View Post
          Whether either a lunch break or a lunch break area has to be provided is a matter of state law. You have not provided your state, so we can't tell you if any laws have been violated to that regard.

          However, as the other posters have indicated, it is never legal to deduct time for a break that was not actually taken.

          I thought I had put that in the title.
          Were in the Socialist republic of California!

          The owner of my wifes company had recently divorced her husband, who actually ran the business and it was quite successful. Now she is floundering with trying to run the business all on her own and is failing miserably. They recently turned an office into a lunch break room, apparently its required to supply a lunch break area for the employees. But to require the route drivers to take their breaks there at the end of the shift just seems a bit wrong.

          Thanks all for the info!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BluecolarShawn View Post
            I thought I had put that in the title.
            Were in the Socialist republic of California!
            You did. Far too often I have commented on a California issue without recognizing what state was involved.

            While I find California's wage orders confusing, a brief review of a few shows no exceptions from break and meal requirements for route drivers.
            Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BluecolarShawn View Post
              Recently, my wifes employer has provided a break room and is now requiring employees to take their lunch break and regular breaks on site.
              Meal breaks, in which you are restricted to the job site, must be paid regardless of if you are relieved of all duty.

              Originally posted by BluecolarShawn View Post
              I thought there was a law saying you had to take the lunch break within the first 6 hours?
              Within the first 5, actually.
              My intention is not to argue over who is wrong/right. I am here for the discussion and to learn and teach. If you dislike what I have to say or think I question you when I shouldn't, then by all means add me to your ignore list.

              Comment

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