Under California labor law, employers are required to provide all of their hourly employees with a paid rest break lasting at least ten minutes for every four hours worked. For every five hours worked, employers must provide an unpaid meal break lasting at least half an hour. What employers are not allowed to do is automatically clock out their employees for lunch breaks, regardless of whether the employees actually take those breaks. In fact, if an employee misses one of these breaks, for any reason, the law requires the employer to pay her one hour’s worth of wages, in addition to all straight wages earned that day.
According to a recent class action wage and hour lawsuit against Costco, the wholesale retailer had a “continuous and widespread policy of ‘clocking out’” employees for half hour- or hour-long lunch breaks, regardless of whether the employees actually took their breaks. The lawsuit alleges it is common for Costco employees to work through their lunch breaks, which means they regularly perform work for which they do not get paid. Continue reading