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San Diego Meal and Rest Breaks Attorney

If you have questions about missed or interrupted meal or rest breaks in San Diego, contact Hamparyan Law Firm. The attorneys at our law firm can help investigate violations and recover the unpaid wages you may be owed under California law. Call (619) 550-1355 today to speak with an experienced San Diego employment meal and rest break lawyer.

Overview of San Diego Meal and Rest Break Rules in California

California labor laws contain strict requirements around providing employees proper meal and rest breaks during the workday. If an employer fails to adhere to these meal and rest break laws, it can be grounds for employees to file a legal claim.

Meal Breaks

The California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders require employers to provide meal breaks for all non-exempt employees.

  • Employees must receive an uninterrupted 30-minute duty-free meal break if working more than five hours in a day.
  • Employees working more than 10 hours must receive a first meal break and are entitled to a second meal break of 30 minutes, uninterrupted. 
  • Employers must not not require employees to stay on premises during meal breaks. Workers must be entitled to meal breaks fully relieved of duties.

Rest Period Breaks

In addition to meal breaks, the Wage Orders mandate rest breaks for nonexempt workers.

  • Employees should be entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked or major fraction it.
  • Breaks should be provided as close to the middle of the four-hour work period as possible.
  • Employers cannot require employees to stay on premises during 10-minute rest breaks.

Labor Law Consequences for Missed or Interrupted Breaks

When employers violate California meal and rest break requirements, employees have the right to claim repayment:

  • Employees are owed one additional hour of pay for each workday they missed a meal or rest break or had it interrupted by work duties.
  • The California Labor Commissioner’s Office can fine companies up to $25,000 for systematic violations regarding denied or interrupted breaks.
  • Employees may file lawsuits for back pay owed if employers have repeatedly failed to provide proper breaks.

Common Violations by Employers

While some companies unintentionally violate the nuances of California break laws, others blatantly disregard the rules entirely. Some of the most common violations include:

Interrupting Breaks

  • Requiring employees to carry radios or phones during meal and rest periods
  • Having employees clock out but continuing to perform duties
  • Calling employees back early from breaks to address issues.

Preventing Breaks

  • Failing to provide coverage so employees can take breaks
  • Denying timely breaks during busy periods
  • Discouraging employees from taking rest or meal breaks.

Inaccurate Time Records

  • Adjusting time cards to hide missed or interrupted breaks
  • Clocking employees out while they continue working
  • Not paying for on-duty meal periods.


  • Threatening discipline for taking breaks
  • Cutting employee hours or firing for reporting issues
  • Making work life miserable for those who speak up.

Protecting Your Rights to Proper Breaks

If you believe your employer is violating rules around providing meal and rest breaks, there are a few things you can do:

Track Your Time

  • Record your own meal and rest break start and end times.
  • Compare your own records to time cards and pay stubs for accuracy.

Report Issues

  • Bring violations to your manager’s attention.
  • File a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner.

Contact an Attorney

  • An employment lawyer can fully investigate improper practices.
  • Determine if a lawsuit is warranted to recover owed wages.

How a Meal & Rest Break Lawyer Can Help

Contacting an experienced California meal and rest break attorney is key if you want to confirm violations occurred and recover unpaid wages owed to you. An attorney can provide assistance with:

Investigation of Violations Related to Rest and Meal Break Laws

  • Interview coworkers to establish company-wide issues.
  • Review schedules, policies, time cards, and other documentation for problems.

Calculate Total Owed Compensation for Violation of Rest and Meal Breaks in California

  • Document each instance of missed or interrupted break.
  • Calculate additional hour of pay owed per violation.

Build Strong Legal Case Under San Diego Labor Law

  • Use evidence gathered to prove systematic violations by employer.
  • Motivate employer’s compliance with meal and rest break laws going forward.

At Hamparyan Law Firm, we handle California labor law cases like missed meal and rest periods on a contingency fee basis. This means no upfront costs to you. We only collect legal fees if we recover unpaid wages on your behalf.

What Damages Can You Recover For Rest and Meal Breaks Under California Law?

In cases of missed or interrupted meal breaks and rest breaks, possible compensation can include:

  • One additional hour of pay for each day with a violation
  • Interest on all unpaid wages
  • Costs of the lawsuit
  • Attorney fees.

If violations are particularly egregious, punitive damages may also be awarded to you. A punitive award is an amount that the wrongdoer has to pay for extraordinary or gross violations.

Choose Hamparyan Law Firm

With decades of experience in California law, Hamparyan Law Firm are highly qualified to handle your claim for missed or interrupted break.

Founding Attorney Robert Hamparyan

As a former defense attorney, firm founder Robert Hamparyan understands how insurance companies operate. He uses this insider knowledge to build strong cases proving violations and maximizing compensation for wronged employees.

Record of Favorable Verdicts & Settlements

Our extensive case history includes over $100 million in settlements and verdicts in favor of our clients. This demonstrates our commitment to fighting for the rights and interests of every client we work with.

No Fees Unless We Win

We handle cases like meal and rest break violations on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing upfront or out-of-pocket for legal services. We only get paid if you receive a favorable settlement or court award.

If you were denied meal and rest breaks, contact the experienced employment attorneys at Hamparyan Law Firm. Call (619) 550-1355 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Meal and Rest Break Lawyer Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does an Employer Have to Provide Meal and Rest Breaks?

California labor law requires nonexempt employees to receive a 30-minute uninterrupted and duty-free meal break if working over five hours in a day. Employees working over 10 hours must receive a second 30-minute meal break. They are additionally entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked or a significant fraction thereof. Meal breaks should be provided no later than the end of an employee’s fifth hour of work. Rest breaks should fall as close to the middle of each four-hour block as possible.

Can My Employer Require Me to Stay on Premises During Breaks?

No. California law explicitly states that employers cannot require employees to remain on work premises during meal and rest breaks. Workers must be completely relieved of all job duties and free from employer control during the 30-minute meal period and 10-minute rest breaks. Employers who engage in on-duty meal or rest breaks can face penalties.

What Should I Do If My Employer Denies or Interrupts My Breaks?

If your employer violates rules around providing breaks, start compiling evidence, such as by tracking your own time and comparing it to your time cards and pay stubs. You can approach your manager or supervisor about your experience. Make sure you get a record of your report and the manager’s response. If you feel that the company is doing nothing to correct the violation, contact us at the Hamparyan office to explore your best next steps.

Do Rest Breaks Have to Be Paid?

Yes. California law is clear that rest breaks of 10 minutes for every four hours worked must be paid breaks. Employers cannot require employees to clock out and work off the clock during 10-minute rest periods. Rest breaks must be separate from meal breaks and offered in addition to meal periods.

Can I Recover Additional Pay If My Employer Adjusts My Time Card to Hide Missed Breaks?

Yes. Employers who alter time cards to cover up or conceal meal or rest break violations can face serious penalties under San Diego employment law. Intentionally manipulating time records to avoid paying owed wages is illegal. Employees can recover not only one additional hour of pay per day with a missed or interrupted break violation but also costs, interest, and attorney fees.

What Proof Do I Need to Show Meal or Rest Break Violations Occurred?

To prove your employer violated California meal and rest break requirements, key evidence to collect includes:

  • Timecard and payroll records showing missed, late, or interrupted breaks
  • Policies or procedures that violate labor laws
  • Coworker statements regarding company practices
  • Written reprimands issued for taking breaks

With the right evidence, an experienced lawyer can build a strong case proving systematic violations occurred and recovering owed wages.

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Claim Over Missed Meal and Rest Breaks?

Yes. Recovering penalties and attorney fees under most provisions of the Labor Code requires filing a civil lawsuit within three years. An employment lawyer can provide specifics based on the exact nature of the violations. Do not delay in contacting counsel.

What are Common Retaliation Tactics Employers Use Regarding Breaks?

Employers use various retaliation measures to discourage employees from complaining about missed breaks, including:

  • Issuing unwarranted write-ups or discipline
  • Cutting employee hours or changing schedules
  • Wrongly demoting or firing employees
  • Assigning less desirable duties after complaints.

Retaliation for exercising rights under California employment law is illegal. If you experience retaliation after reporting meal or rest break violations, contact a lawyer immediately. You may have a claim for retaliation as well.

Protect Your Rest Break Rights. Call Our Employment Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation.

Hamparyan Law Firm in San Diego has a strong track record of obtaining favorable verdicts and settlements for clients. We handle a wide variety of personal injury cases and employment law cases. Led by renowned trial lawyer Robert Hamparyan, our law office pursues maximum compensation for clients while operating on a contingency fee basis, requiring no out-of-pocket payments from you.

If you need a skilled San Diego employment lawyer, contact the dedicated legal professionals at Hamparyan Law Firm. Get a free consultation by calling (619) 550-1355 today.


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