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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 36083
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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For almost 4 years the persons on my unit have not received

Customer Question

For almost 4 years the persons on my unit have not received either one or two lunch breaks for our 12 hour shifts. We were told to clock out for our break, then we were forced to work through our lunch break. We were also forced to sign a paper stating we would only take one 30 minute lunch break for our 12 hour shift. Is there anything we can do about this
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good morning,

I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.

Yes, you may sue, going back as far as 3 years for all the unpaid wages relating to your lunch breaks that you were forced to work for. Under CA law, if you work no more that 12 hours in a day, you can legally have a written agreement with your employer to waive your second meal break---but you still must be paid for the time you do work. Here is the law regarding the ability to waive the second meal break of the day:

As for the suit against the employer for failing to pay you for the working meal break, you may file suit and seek not only the back pay for up to 3 years prior to the date that you actually file the suit (you cannot go back further than 3 years under the law), but you may also collect what is known as liquidated damages.

Under federal laws (FLSA), you are also entitled to what is called Liquidated damages. Liquidated damages is equal to the amount of back wages that they owe you and must be paid in addition to the wages themselves---so you essentially get double wages in the claim based on their willful failure to pay you.

Here is an excellent article which deals with pursuing an FLSA claim---which you may do in either state court or federal court. Do take the time to review it:

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

Kindly take a moment to rate my service to you highly, based on the understanding of the law I provided. Please understand that I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and I trust you agree that it would be unfair for me to be punished by a (negative rating) ----the first 2 stars/faces----for having been honest with you about the law.

I wish you the best in 2012,


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