Missed Meal and Rest Breaks are Wages: The California Supreme Case Agrees

At Romero Law, our skilled Pasadena employment law attorneys know that many California employees work through meal and rest breaks to meet important deadlines, protect the job they currently have, or seek a promotion.

Typically, employees would work through lunch, or forego a much-needed break to get the job done. While this behavior was often awarded praise from their employers, the law requires more than commendation, but paid compensation.

Here is what California employees need to know about working through rest and meal breaks.

The Supreme Court of California Recently Ruled Missed Meal and Rest Break Premiums are Wages

The case heard by the California Supreme Court was Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Service, Inc. recently reversed a lower court’s decision and ruled that premium pay for missed meal and rest breaks must be reported on wage statements under California Labor Code section 226.

Simply put, when employees work through their rest or meal breaks without pay, their employer is violating California wage and hour law.

Is Unpaid Rest & Meal Break Compensation Retroactive?

Yes. Unpaid wages must be paid retroactively to the employee.

If the employer fails to do so, the company can face fines and other consequences.

An employer’s failure to count missed meal and rest breaks as compensable time could also affect the employee’s overtime pay or bonuses.

Working through meal breaks could extend an employee’s workday beyond eight hours, which requires overtime payment of 1.5 times the regular pay rate for each hour worked beyond the initial eight hours.

Are You Not Being Paid for Meal and Rest Breaks in California?

While California employers have argued that employees who work through rest and meal breaks do so voluntarily, that means they should not have to pay for that time.

The Supreme Court of California disagrees.

If you think you are owed unpaid wages, gather the necessary documentation — which may include timecards and paystubs or pay statements — and contact our experienced Wage & Hour Attorneys in Pasadena to discuss your legal rights and options to hold your employer accountable for both your current and retroactive unpaid wages today.

Our employment law firm and bilingual staff offer services in both English and Spanish and are available now to discuss your case during a free consultation by calling 626-396-9900 or contacting us online.

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