Can my employer force me to take 1 hour unpaid lunch breaks in order to avoid me working overtime?

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Can my employer force me to take 1 hour unpaid lunch breaks in order to avoid me working overtime?

In my state I know that the minimum lunch break is 30 minutes but can I be forced to take a longer one?

Asked on January 10, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have an employment contract, union agreement or company policy that provides otherwise, your employer can give you a 1 hour lunch break. The fact is that most employment arrangements are "at will". This means that an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. For an employee's part, they can accept their employer's terms or quit.
Note: If your treatement is due to some form of actionable discrimination you would have a claim. However, there is no evidence of that based on the limited facts presented.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes: your employer can require you to not work for an hour mid-day--employers have full and total authority to set the hours which employees work, and can have them come in late, take long unpaid lunches, leave early, etc. to avoid overtime. For this to be legal, your employer can't make you do anything, or even require you to stay on worksite, during the hour: you must be fully off the clock and able to leave, do errands, etc. during that time.


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