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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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I work for Riverside County Regional Medical Center in the

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I work for Riverside County Regional Medical Center in the Pharmacy Dept on the graveyard shift. There are six of us that work ten hour shifts, and Management is forcing us to take a lunch break. According to the California Labor Law Title 8, Section 11040, we have the ability to waive our lunch. Management is refusing our right to waive it. Do I have any legal action I can take for violating the California Labor Law.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

The Labor Code section that you cited states the following about meal periods:

"(A) No employer shall employ any person for a work period of more than five (5) hours without a meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that when a work period of not more than six (6) hours will complete the day’s work the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee.

(B) An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than ten (10) hours per day without providing the employee with a second meal period of not less than 30 minutes, except that if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and the employee only if the first meal period was not waived."

These code sections clearly indicate that meal periods CANNOT be waived unless the total shift is 6 hours or less (in which case MUTUAL consent is required, meaning the employer must consent, too), or unless the shift is so long that two meal periods are required in which case the second meal period can be waived by mutual consent.

In short, you probably cannot sue your employer because he or she is requiring you to take a meal period. In fact, the Labor Code actually allows you to sue your employer if he DOESN'T allow you to take such breaks. (See 11010(11)(D) "If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period in accordance with the applicable provisions of this order, the employer shall pay the employee one (1) hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the meal period is not provided.")

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Finally, the information that I have provided is not legal advice. I am not acting as your attorney and my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. I encourage you to consult with a local attorney in regard to legal matters.

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