Employers have another new worry concerning wages owed to employees who don’t get their full and uninterrupted lunch or break time. Not only is the extra hour of pay for the day now clearly classified as part of the employee’s wages, but he or she can sue you directly for that money.
Recent case: Susan Swanson sued her former employer, USProtect Corporation, to collect unpaid wages under the California Labor Code. She filed her claim on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, demanding payment for the one hour of pay allegedly due for each missed meal or rest period.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California allowed her lawsuit to go forward, reasoning that she had up to three years to file her claim. The court also said that if Swanson shows that she actually missed meals or breaks, it will also decide whether she’s owed an hour for each missed break or meal, or just one hour of pay for each day she missed the time off, regardless of how often per day she was deprived of that time. (Swanson v. USProtect Corporation, No. 05-602, ND CA, 2007)