Can I sue my boss for not giving me breaks if I’ve had to work 22 days without having a day off?

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Can I sue my boss for not giving me breaks if I’ve had to work 22 days without having a day off?

Also, I work (and so does my boyfriend) for more then 4 hours without breaks.

Asked on November 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From the facts presented, if you are a full-time non-salaried employee, you may well have a claim since your employer schedules you to work more than 6 days in any given week. IL labor law requires all employers to give workers 1 “day of rest”. This means 24 hours of consecutive time off in every 7 day week. And this is in addition to the time off at the end of each work day. For example, if you end work at 3:00 pm on Wednesday and have to be back for your next shift at 3:00 pm Thursday, legally that doesn’t count as your day of rest, Why? You were off for 24 hours but you worked both Wednesday and Thursday. Employers are required to keep a record of all employees and the hours they work.

Employers can get a permit that allows them to schedule without this rest day but the employee has to specifically agree to work the extra day.

Note: This law does not apply if you work part-time (20 hours or less per week). There are a few other exceptions, including coal miners, agriculture workers, security guards, and those who are considered “executive, administrative, or professional” (typically salaried employees; i.e. exempt employees).

As for your break periods, every employer must allow 20 minutes of unpaid meal time for every employee working more than 7 1/2 hours a day. This time must begin no later than 5 hours into the work period. However, there is an exception if the employee is in a position that requires them to be on call; you do not have to be given a meal period but you must be allowed to eat on the job.

As a general rule, there is no law requiring employee breaks beyond the meal period (with the exception is for the hotel industry in Cook County - hotel attendants who work at least 7 hours get 2/15 minute paid breaks and 1/30 minute unpaid meal time).

If you feel that your rights are being violated you should contact IL's department of labor and/or an employment law attorney.


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