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Meal and Break Penalties? California

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  • Meal and Break Penalties? California

    Let me get this correct...everyday I do not recieve a Meal or Break I am supposed to recieve 1 hour compensation for each meal and the breaks required, correct? I have not been paid for any meal/break penalties for the entire year and I do not take a meal and a break just about everyday (i work 6 hrs/day). I have asked for copies of my timecards and my check stubs so I can figure out some numbers.

    Off the top of my head and guestimating my employer owes me around $1,600 in compensation. Can I file a claim w/ the state if they don't voluntarily pay me or should I take them to court?

    Also, how far back could I go?? I have dates where I would work 12 hrs without a meal from 2005 and 2006. Could I fight for that money also or let it go. 2005, 2006 equal around $600.

  • #2
    Before we go any further & just to verify so we give you correct info - are you an exempt or non-exempt employee? Thanks.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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    • #3
      non-exempt

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      • #4
        You can file a claim with the DLSE.
        http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MealPeriods.htm
        http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Policies.htm
        http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DLSE-Forms-Wage.htm
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          Is it possible you signed a waiver?

          California law regarding meal breaks (AB60) allows an exception "Existing wage orders of the commission prohibit an employer from employing an employee for a work period of more than 5 hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, with the exception that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than 6 hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee."

          If you only work 6 hours/day, a smart employer would have had you sign a waiver so that you would not be expected to take lunch.

          Also, you would only receive 1 hour of compensation per day, maximum. It is not 1 hour per missed break. So far, the 1 hour penalty only applies to missed meal breaks and not other breaks.

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          • #6
            The penalty does apply to missed rest breaks, but again only 1 hour per day, no matter how many required rest breaks are missed.
            http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_RestPeriods.htm

            The FAQs don't address compounding of the penalty for a day in which both the meal break and at least one rest break is missed.

            Martinigirl, have you encountered the above situation before?
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Oops, further info on breaks...

              ...depending on what you do for a living, you may be compensated up to 1 hour per day for missed rest periods per IWC Article 5.

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              • #8
                PATTYMD, I added my next response before I saw yours.

                Yes, I have encountered this before. I work for company that provides time clocks & software to hospitals. We must continually educate employers and employees about California AB60 and Industrial Welfare Commission Order No. 5-2001.

                Most of the hospitals we work with have employees sign a waiver that waives a meal period if work is completed within 6 hours and that same waiver waives 1 of the 2 meal periods that would normally be required for employees working 12-hour shifts. Most nursing personnel work 12-hour shifts.

                This law is very difficult for hospitals because California also mandates nursing ratios. These ratios must be maintained at all times and it becomes incredibly challenging to give nurses a meal break at the appropriate times and cover the nursing unit to appropriate ratios around the clock.

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                • #9
                  Most of our clients intrepret the law as requiring...

                  ...only 1 hour of penalty to be paid even if both the meal break and rest periods were not taken. I'm not aware, personally, of which way the courts have gone with this.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by martinigirl View Post
                    ...only 1 hour of penalty to be paid even if both the meal break and rest periods were not taken. I'm not aware, personally, of which way the courts have gone with this.

                    Me either.
                    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                    • #11
                      I never signed a waiver stating not to compensate for the missed meals. This company has paid me for som missed meal periods and missed rest periods before.

                      I am supposed to get 1 hour per day for missed meal(s) and 1 hour per day for missed rest(s), correct? so If I work 6 hours for 1 day i am suppoed to get 1 meal and 1 rest. but if I wor straight through no rest and no meal i am supposed to get 2 hrs compensation.

                      I am waiting for the company to give me copies of my timecards so I can do some math and see what days I worked, ad how mny of those I didnt get a meal break. As soon as I get those copies i will ask the company for the compensation money, if they dont voluntarilty pay me I will file a claim.

                      By law can I ask them for interest on the moneythey owe me??? If so, what is a good rate that I should go for???

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                      • #12
                        That's what Martinigirl and I are not sure about. Whether the penalty is limited to 1 hour per day no matter what, or whether it's 1 hour for the missed meal period plus 1 hour for (however many) missed rest period(s).

                        Can't hurt to ask for interest. Although the DLSE might order interest to be paid (or might not, again I really don't know, since I don't have employees in California any longer, and when I did, we were very strict about making sure the employees took their breaks and meal periods), the employer would possibly rather pay interest than have the DLSE come in and audit ALL the records and discover how many other employees may be in the same situation you are.

                        The other thing you have to consider is whether or not your company will fire you for "making waves". Although whistleblower laws would protect you from termination if you filed this claim with the DLSE, whistleblower laws don't normally protect you from termination if all you do is report the violation internally.
                        Last edited by Pattymd; 09-27-2007, 11:24 AM.
                        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                        • #13
                          The California courts recently determined that the 1 hour for missed meal/rest period is a wage and not a penalty. This means that there is a 3-year statute of limitations. You should be able to claim as far back as 2005. Here is a link to an article: http://hr.cch.com/news/employment/042307a.asp

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by martinigirl View Post
                            The California courts recently determined that the 1 hour for missed meal/rest period is a wage and not a penalty. This means that there is a 3-year statute of limitations. You should be able to claim as far back as 2005. Here is a link to an article: http://hr.cch.com/news/employment/042307a.asp
                            Yeah, and that also means it's taxable, right? *sigh*
                            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                            • #15
                              I believe so.

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