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Question concerning lunch breaks in CA California

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  • Question concerning lunch breaks in CA California

    Hello,

    This is my first post and it concerns lunch breaks in CA. I am a non exempt salaried, soon to be hourly, employee working in IT. In the past, we were told that if there is only one person working we cannot be more then five minutes away from the building in case there is a trouble call. This is required even during breaks and lunch time. We are not compensated for this. Is that an acceptable and legal practice? We are required to submit certification that we took our breaks but we've never thought about the requirement of being within 5 minutes of the site and how that impacts our breaks. This has been going on for several years now, and at least four days a week for three shifts a day.

    Thanks in advance for any opinions.

  • #2
    http://www.dir.ca.gov/IWC/IWCArticle4.pdf
    http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.19.htm

    "Certification" that you took the 30-minute uninterrupted meal break? How do they expect you to do that?
    Last edited by Pattymd; 09-11-2009, 09:59 AM.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

    Comment


    • #3
      http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_MealPeriods.htm

      If the employer requires the employee to remain at the work site or facility during the meal period, the meal period must be paid. This is true even where the employee is relieved of all work duties during the meal period. Bono Enterprises, In. v. Bradshaw (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 968
      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
      Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

      Comment


      • #4
        Document everything. If there is somethinng in writing requiring you to "certify" that you took meal breaks, get a copy of it. It sounds like they are trying to circumvent the uninterrupted meal break provision of California law. If you are admitting that you took a break, they are hoping to be clear of the law. The requirement is an uninterrupted 30 minute meal period for an 8 hour day. There are provisions for an on-duty meal period that must be paid. However, there must be objective criteria for the on-duty meal period. It can't be simply because the employer wants it.

        There are and have been several class action lawsuits over missed meal and rest breaks. Some employers have merely been ignorant of the laws while others have tried to get around them. The issue currently under consideration by the California State Supreme Court is whether an employer must merely make a meal break available to employees or if they must make sure an employee takes their meal break.

        Comment


        • #5
          r53, keep in mind, when reading the federal regulations on the US Department of labor website, that the following statement would not hold true in California:
          A shorter period [of less than 30 minutes] may be long
          enough under special conditions.
          "The most patriotic people in America are the working class" - Cecil Roberts - President UMWA

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the replies.

            We were verbally told this by our team lead a couple of years ago. I have to reread the certification but essential in the time tracking program, SAP, and there is a screen we need to go to every day we work to certify we took our different breaks. Currently, I am trying to get our mgmt to put the policy in writing. As of now, it's verbal.

            I confirmed with a coworker that we were told not to be more than 5 minutes away from the office because if there is a trouble ticket we need to be back to work on it. We are not compensated for it in time or money.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
              http://www.dir.ca.gov/IWC/IWCArticle4.pdf
              http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Ti...9CFR785.19.htm

              "Certification" that you took the 30-minute uninterrupted meal break? How do they expect you to do that?
              Thank you for the pdf and link. That was helpful.

              There is a screen with options stating we took our breaks. I have to see what else it has it on but I do believe some of the other options but I do not remember exactly what it stated but they dealt with not taking the breaks and why.
              Last edited by r53; 09-11-2009, 02:23 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Are there any statue of limitations that can be invoked by an employer? I don't know if I want to rock the boat in this economy.
                Last edited by r53; 09-11-2009, 02:47 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by r53 View Post
                  Are there any statue of limitations that can be invoked by an employer?
                  From the link DAW provided

                  Q. What is the applicable statute of limitations on filing a meal period claim?

                  A. In the case of Murphy v. Cole, the California Supreme Court held that the remedy for meal and rest period violations of "one additional hour of pay" under Labor Code section 226.7 is a wage subject to a three-year statute of limitations. Accordingly, a claim must be filed within three (3) years of the alleged meal period violation. See attached Division memoranda regarding the Court's decision.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks, that was very helpful.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There could also be an additional one year added if the employer maintained an unfair advantage over its competitors under Buisness and Professionns Code §§ 17200-17208.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        What would be the best way to recover the meal money?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Meal money as in the time? Easiest? DLSE. Faster? Law suit. Of course, the first is free; the second will cost you.
                          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                          • #14
                            I was conferring with my colleagues about this and we are not sure if that 5 min rule is a written policy. It was verbally told to us by our team lead who gets his info from management. The whole reasoning behind staying is take care of severity 1 tickets. The contract requires resolution from the time it was reported. Our mgmt decided we would not a factor in delaying the resolution and specified verbally through the team leads. The team leads are not management but they do participate in management meetings with management, and sometimes represent management in meetings. The sev 1 tickets response times are documented and published, and is required by everyone to know. If we can't prove it based on the lack of a written policy will the verbal edict along with the supporting doc for sev 1 calls be enough to support our claims?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Worriedspouse View Post
                              There could also be an additional one year added if the employer maintained an unfair advantage over its competitors under Buisness and Professionns Code §§ 17200-17208.
                              I think they might have a pricing advantage over it's competition with this practice although we are a small piece of the account. Most of the others are exempt and are worked 60-70 hours a week without even a thank you from mgmt.

                              Comment

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