5-Ways-that-Employers-Unlawfully-Deny-Meal-and-Rest-Breaks-Are-Your-Rights-Being-Violated.jpg (2149×1159)Here in California, the laws about rest and meal breaks are undeniably clear. For every eight hours of work, an employee is entitled to two paid ten-minute rest breaks and one unpaid 30 minute meal break. These laws were put in place for a reason and proof of violation is clear grounds for a lawsuit, and yet employers across the state are still finding ways to “save a nickel” by forcing, pressuring, cajoling, and shaming their employees into skipping or otherwise violating their rest periods.

These breaks are supposed to be your time to relax, take care of yourself, and wrap up any outside-work concerns during the day. If you feel that your workplace right to legal breaks are being violated, they probably are, but to clarify, let’s take a look at five of the most common ways that employers try to weasel out of providing you with the personal time you are required to have.

1. Being ‘On-Call’ During Your Break

On-call is a status that many professionals are familiar in careers ranging from medical to industrial. Being on-call is an important role allowing you to ride to the rescue should a coworker, client, or customer need your assistance in the moment. However, even if you could kick back during your on-call period, you are officially working because you could be called back to work at any moment. No matter how responsible you feel for your team or position, your employer is not legally allowed to ask you to be on-call during your rest or lunch breaks. IT is their responsibility to have enough staff for everyone to get their breaks and have at least one person on-call who is also officially on-duty as well.

2. Being Asked to Do Paperwork On Your Break

Paperwork is the bane of many active professions and it’s not at all unusual to see employees voluntarily catching up on a little form-filling or typo-checking during their ten minutes simply because their minds are still on work and they want to get ahead. It’s not illegal to tend to a few non-essential work tasks while you are on break, provided the tasks are not required. However, it is illegal to ask you to take your paperwork time during your lawful break periods. If your employer has stopped leaving enough time during paid hours to take care of paperwork, they absolutely cannot make you do it during your off time, or make you take care of their paperwork while they take a break instead.

3. Not Being Allowed to Leave the Premises for Lunch

During your 10 minute rest periods, employers can ask you to stick around or remain close to the building because they are paid, which is easy enough considering you only have 10 minutes each. However, you are not paid for your 30-minute lunch break and are officially ‘off the clock’. This means you are free to do anything you need or want to during this time as long as you’re back and ready for work before the 30 minutes are up. If your employer tries to keep you in the building with requests, requirements, leveled threads, or locked doors, they are breaking the law by preventing you from taking care of yourself, your stomach, and any urgent errands that may have come up.

4. Being Asked to Delay Your Meal Break

In an eight hour shift, your meal break is legally required to occur around the middle of the shift, somewhere before the end of the fifth hour of work. This is to prevent employers from forcing their staff to ‘put off’ their meal break until the end of the shift, effectively enforcing a 7.5 straight hour work period. Even if your employer is asking you to put off lunch for an extra hour, this is abuse of your rights and can be grounds for an employee rights violation suit.

5. Being Asked to Clock Out During Rest Breaks

Finally, some employees think they can cleverly ‘save money’ by requiring their employees to officially clock out during their ten-minute rest breaks. They may say that this is simply to make sure everyone keeps their breaks to ten minutes, but there’s a difference between time tracking and doctoring payroll. If your employer has staff clocking out for their ten minutes, this is actually stealing from the staff and is very legally actionable because these are mandated paid breaks.

Are your work break rights being violated? If your employer treats your break time like it’s theirs, is asking for more interaction with the time clock than is reasonable, or asks you to take on ‘just a few’ extra duties during your break time, they are breaking the law and are probably violating the rights of your coworkers as well. Don’t let their attitude make you think there’s nothing you can do. Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we make it our business to stand up for ‘the little guy’ against abusive employers and big businesses that think they can break the law and take liberties just because they are big. To start your first consultation, contact us today. We’re ready to help you make the difference for both you and your coworkers who are likely facing the same break time abuse.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986