When it comes to meal breaks, some employees in California might not agree with their employers' rules about payment. A recent complaint about employee rights involved Taco bell workers who claimed they could not leave the premises during their lunch breaks. They sought overtime compensation for those hours.
However, Taco Bell explained that workers were free to leave the premises, with one exception. Those who benefited from buying meals at reduced staff prices had to consume the food on the premises before going out. The employers said this rule was put in place to prevent staff members buying meals for friends and family at reduced prices, but they were free to finish their meals and then spend any remaining break time away from the premises.
The 9th Circuit agreed that Taco Bell did not violate any laws because the employees had no duties to perform while they consumed the discounted food, and this was the only reason for them having to remain on the premises. Employers only have to pay for breaks that do not exceed 20 minutes, which typically covers coffee and bathroom breaks. While allowing coffee breaks is optional, bathroom breaks may not be restricted. All breaks are compensable for workers who are exempt from overtime.
California workers who have questions about any issues that involve employee rights can get answers from an experienced employment law attorney. The lawyer can also assess any allegations of labor law violations. If there are grounds to take legal action, he or she can advocate for the employee and work to secure the best possible resolution under the circumstances.