Courts weigh in: How to handle meal breaks not taken

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

With workforces lean, it’s important to squeeze every bit of productivity out of employees. But squeeze too hard by not providing employees with state-mandated meal or rest breaks, and you’re likely to face a lawsuit.

Two recent cases illustrate.

Case #1—Employers aren’t the meal police

In accordance with California law, an employer’s meal and rest break policy required employees to take 30-minute, unpaid meal breaks after working longer than five hours, and to take paid rest breaks after working longer than four hours. Employees signed to acknowledge the policy, which also stated that violations could result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Employees brought a class-action lawsuit, contending first that they weren’t provided with their break time, and second, that their employer had to ensure that breaks were taken.

An appeals court ruled against the employees. The California Supreme Court affirmed t...(register to read more)

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