Generally speaking, California law provides that an employer may not employ a worker for a period of more than five hours at a time without providing the worker with a meal period of not less than thirty minutes, except that if the total work period per day of the employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. (Labor Code Section 512.)
In regard to rest breaks, which are different than meal periods, California law requires employers to "authorize and permit" nonexempt employees to take a rest period that should, to the extent practicable, be taken in the middle of the employee's shift. An employee is entitled to take a rest period of no less than 10 minutes for each 4 hour period of work, or major fraction thereof.
These rights cannot be stripped by an employer who wants to discipline an employee.
If an employer refuses to provide you meal periods and/or rest breaks, it would generally be wise to file a claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. To file a claim with the DLSE, visit this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).