Can my employer mandate that I take my lunch break?

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Can my employer mandate that I take my lunch break?

I want to skip it so that I can leave work early and beat the traffic.

Asked on July 10, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not a worker can skip lunch is up to their employer. This is true unless doing skipping a meal period (or rest break) is permitted under the terms of an employment contract or union/collective bargaining agreement. Additionally, their treatment must not constitute any form of legally actionable discrimination. Otherwise, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit,  including requiring a worker to take a lunch break. The fact is that having workers take breaks may reduce errors and/or injuries. An "at will" employee can comply with this mandate, complain and risk termination, or quit.


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