Under California law an employee working a long enough shift is entitled to a meal break but at what point does a temporary employer break the law if an employee isn’t using these breaks? The Court of Appeal for the State of California, First Appellate District, Division One, put the burden on an employee to show her rights were interfered with before there would be liability for unpaid wages due to a missed meal.
The decision concerns Norma Serrano who worked for a temp agency, Aerotek, Inc., at a bakery, Bay Bread, LLC. In a contract between the two companies Bay Bread agreed to be responsible for the daily management of Aerotek employees and comply with applicable state and federal laws. Aerotek’s employee manual largely copies state law when it comes to meal breaks.
After a work period of more than 5 hours, an hourly employee must be provided an uninterrupted 30-minute off-duty meal break. This meal period must begin no later than the end of the employee’s 5th hour of work, and the employee is expected to take this meal break in full. If, however, an employee’s workday is no more than 6 hours, the employee may elect to waive the off-duty meal period in advance by written agreement with the company.