Are you a California employee feeling the strain of never having a moment to take a break, and wondering if you can take legal action against your employer?

California labor laws provide clear answers to this question. Employee breaks and meals during their work shifts are not just a perk; they are vital for your well-being and productivity, offering you the chance to rest and recharge. Employers who fall short of complying with these laws face serious consequences.

Employment Lawyer Abel H. Fernandez recognizes the disturbing reality where violations of employee rights still exist: employees across different industries endure prolonged mistreatment and, at times, direct violations of their rights by employers.


Stay with us as we discuss your rights as an employee in California, what legal remedies are available to you if your employer violates break laws, and how to seek justice if you’ve been denied breaks.

Understanding California Labor Laws Regarding Breaks

Can you really sue your employer for not receiving breaks? The answer is yes! California has strict labor laws in place to protect the rights of employees, and one of those rights is the right to break.

In California, employers must comply with the law by ensuring that nonexempt, or hourly, employees receive an unpaid 30-minute meal break within the first five hours of each workday.


Where non-exempt employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked, and a 30-minute meal break for every five hours worked. If your employer is not providing you with these required breaks, they are in violation of the law. 

Hourly employees are entitled to take a paid rest break for 10 minutes for every four hours worked or “major fraction thereof.” You have the right to take legal action against your employer by filing a lawsuit for not providing breaks.

Consequences for Employers Who Violate Break Laws

Penalties await employers who fail to provide their employees with the necessary breaks. In California, the consequences for violating break laws can be severe.


If an employer fails to give their employees the required meal breaks, they may be required to pay the employee an additional hour of pay for each missed break. This is known as a ‘meal period premium.’ Once an employer fails to provide their employees with rest breaks, they may also be required to pay the employee an extra hour of pay for each missed break.


These penalties can quickly add up and become a significant financial burden for the employer. So, if you’re not getting the breaks you’re entitled to, you have the right to take legal action and potentially sue your employer for compensation.

Recognizing Your Rights as a California Employee

Recognizing your rights as a California employee means understanding the power and protection you have under the law. 

In California, employees are entitled to certain rights when it comes to breaks and rest periods. First and foremost, you have the right to a meal break of at least 30 minutes if you work more than five hours a day. If it’s more than ten hours in a day, you are entitled to a second meal break. 

You also have the right to a paid rest period of at least ten minutes for every four hours worked. These breaks are essential for your well-being and productivity. 


Legal Remedies for Employees Denied Breaks

If your employer refuses to provide necessary breaks, there are legal remedies available to ensure your rights are protected and upheld. Under California labor laws, employees are entitled to rest breaks and meal breaks during their work shifts, unless waived by the employee.

If your employer fails to provide these breaks, you have the right to seek legal action. You can file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or pursue a lawsuit against your employer. 

Legal remedies may include compensation for missed breaks, penalties, and even potential injunctions to require your employer to provide breaks in the future.

Seeking Justice for Unfair Treatment

Seeking justice for unfair treatment can be a challenging and arduous process but you should stand up and fight against any form of discrimination or mistreatment in the workplace. 


If you believe you have been denied breaks in California, here are your legal options to seek compensation and hold your employer accountable:

  • File a Complaint with DLSE:: You can file a complaint to the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). They can investigate your case and potentially order your employer to provide you with the breaks you’re entitled to, as well as any back wages owed.
  • Lawsuit against Employer:: You may choose to file a lawsuit against your employer for violating California labor laws. This could result in further compensation for damages and penalties for your employer.

You not only protect your rights but also contribute to creating a fair and just work environment for all employees by taking action.


If you find yourself in this situation, remember that you’ve got rights. California labor laws protect your right to breaks, and employers who violate these laws can face serious consequences. If you’re being denied breaks, know your rights and seek legal remedies. Don’t hesitate to seek justice for unfair treatment and stand up for your rights as a California employee.

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