The security checks discouraged employees from leaving for meal breaks
Imagine going to work, and forgetting to pack a lunch. “No big deal,” you think, “I’ll just run out and grab lunch.” But then picture this: your employer requires you to go through a security check every time you leave the workplace. Would leaving work be a big deal? In a recent California case, a jury awarded Walmart employees more than $6 million in meal break premiums for just such a scenario.
The case, Hamilton v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., arose out of a fulfillment center in Chino, California. There, employees were required to complete a security check before leaving the facility. They only had a 30 minute break for meals, and were not compensated for the time spent walking to the security checkpoint, waiting in line, or going through security. This meant that if they spent 10 minutes going through security, they only had 20 minutes left in their meal break.
In California, employers are required to provide employees with a meal break. According to a seasoned California employment lawyer, if an employer discourages or prevents employees from taking that meal break, it could be a violation of California law.
A jury agreed with this analysis, and in April 2019, found in favor of Wal-Mart employees. It determined that by requiring members of the class to complete the search before leaving the facility, Wal-Mart failed to provide workers with required meal breaks.
This decision may be appealed, but right now, it is a win for California employees. Meal breaks are required under California law, and they give employees a chance to have an uninterrupted break.
If an employer fails to give you a meal break, or requires you to work during your meal break, that may be a violation of California law. According to a California employment lawyer, this could be the basis of a legal claim against an employer. This could be considered a violation of California’s meal break law, or even a form of wage theft.
For example, consider a situation where you work in a popular restaurant. You have a scheduled meal break, as is required under the law. But your meal break happens to fall during the restaurant’s busiest time — the lunch rush. Your employer tells you to clock out, but keep working, and you never do get your meal break. This happens regularly, so that you are clocking out for half an hour on a near-daily basis — which means that you are working for a half hour without pay every single day. In this situation, you should be getting paid for your work — and if you are not, then you may have a claim. A skilled California employment lawyer can help determine if you have a case.
At PLBSH, our attorneys work with employees who have experienced a range of wrongs in the workplace. If you have been been treated unfairly at work, through wage theft, wage and hour violations, discrimination, or any other issue, we can help. Contact our firm today at (800) 435-7542 or firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn more or schedule an appointment with an experienced California employment lawyer.