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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12635
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I work in a Sew & Vac store as one of 2 "Sewing Ladies". I

Customer Question

I work in a Sew & Vac store as one of 2 "Sewing Ladies". I never get a real lunch. Maybe 5 times in over 2 years have I been able to sit and finish a meal. Sometimes I am the only sewing person there but there are other workers. Many times the other sewing person is there but I still get no lunch. I bring peanut butter crackers in case I get a chance to eat because one of them can be chewed and swallowed quickly. I had to take a piece of food out of my mouth the other day in order to take a phone call. I think this has started to affect my health--the no eating or drinking makes me feel bad some days. I don't remember signing anything that says I agree with this. Most of all the other employees get to eat at one time. Some even have friends come and bring them food and sit and eat with them. I am in California and need advice.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

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.)

Furthermore, unless the employee is relieved of all duty during his or her lunch, the lunch is an "on duty" meal period that is counted as hours worked which must be compensated at the employee's regular rate of pay. An "on duty" meal period is permitted only where the nature of the employee's work makes it impossible for them to be relieved of all duty and when the parties enter into a written agreement for an on-the-job paid meal period. The written agreement must state that the employee may, in writing, revoke the agreement at any time. IWC Orders 1 -15, Section 11, Order 16, Section 10.

California courts have also held that an employee's meal period must be paid if the employer requires the employee to remain at the work site or facility during the meal period. Bono Enterprises, In. v. Bradshaw (1995) 32 Cal.App.4th 968.

Failure to provide a meal period is a serious offense. To file a wage claim with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, visit this link:

I sincerely hope that this information helps you and I wish you the very best of luck. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Please abide by the honor code of this website by kindly clicking on the GREEN ACCEPT button if my answer has been helpful to you. Thank you very much.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I DO get paid my regular wage but the thing is I rarely get a chance to eat and if I do it is somethink like a small peanut butter cracker-something I can choke down if I see customers that need help.. Sometimes work 9 straight hours and by the time I get home I am starving. Plus this seems to make mem feel not so good so I don't know if it is affecting my health. I am trying not to make waves since I have an unresolved Workman's Comp case with them and I can't afford to loose my job. My supervisor is not a very nice person and if I say something it would not be good for me there. But it is hard to watch everyone else sit down and eat a normal meal and I am lucky if I get to chew gum. I AM being paid for 8 or 9 hours depending on the day so I get paid for my "lunch"-except I don't get one and if I do happen to be able to eat more than one or two crackers, it is in front of the computer doing work.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
I certainly understand your concerns. As I stated in my previous reply, an employer must typically obtain an employee's consent in writing before forcing him or her to work through their meal period, even if the period is paid. Further, the employee can revoke the agreement and decide to take full, unpaid lunches at any time.

Any employer would be prohibited from retaliating against an employee who exercised their right to take a lunch break. Any adverse employment action resulting from such request would give rise to a cause of action to sue.

I hope that this adequately clarifies my response and makes it worthy of your "accept." If I still have not adequately answered your question, please do not hesitate to request further clarification. My goal is your absolute satisfaction.