New York City Meals & Breaks Lawyer
Ensuring That New York Workers Receive Meal Breaks and Rest Periods They Are Entitled to Under the Law
Meal periods and rest breaks are not required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets the requirements for a federal minimum wage and overtime pay. Individual states, however, are allowed to go beyond what the federal law requires, and close to half the states, including New York, have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. In New York City, the minimum is even higher than the state mandate. States can also require employers to provide meal and rest breaks if they so choose.
When it comes to meals and breaks, only 21 states currently require meal breaks, and only nine make employers give their employees periodic rest breaks. New York does have rules in place regarding meal breaks, but rest breaks are not required at the state level. When employers provide rest breaks, even though not required, they still must apply their own rules fairly.
Unfortunately, companies easily violate meal and rest break laws and rules to the detriment of the worker. If you are a New York City employee who has been denied a meal break or rest period you thought you were entitled to, call Mansell Law to discuss your concerns with an experienced and dedicated New York employment lawyer.
What Are the Rules for Meal and Rest Breaks in New York?
New York law mandates meal breaks but not rest breaks. First of all, the law requires a one-hour noonday meal period for factory workers. Workers in non-factory settings are entitled to a 30-minute noonday period if their shift lasts longer than six hours and crosses the noonday meal period. Additionally, employers in all industries and occupations must provide 20-minute meal period between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for employees whose shift starts before 11 a.m. and continues past 7 p.m. Finally, for employees with a shift greater than six hours that starts any time between 1 p.m. and 6 a.m., factory workers get a one-hour meal period, and all other workers get 45 minutes.
Employers can apply to the Department of Labor for shorter time periods, so if you are regularly given shorter meal breaks than as stated above, you’ll need to find out whether the shorter period has been approved by the state.
How do New York Employers Violate Meal and Break Rules?
Meal periods don’t count as “hours worked” and can lawfully be unpaid. However, if the employer requires the employees to attend a “brown bag lunch” where they eat during a meeting or while listening to a presentation of some sort, that time should be paid. Also, meals should be eaten away from the employee’s desk or workspace. Otherwise, their meal period is likely compensable time. This is true even if the employee voluntarily chooses to eat at his or her desk; it’s up to the employer to enforce workplace rules and not “suffer or permit” an employee to work during what are supposed to be non-duty hours.
Although New York does not require rest breaks, many employers provide them anyway. Rest periods of short duration, if provided, must be counted as working time and paid. Employers violate wage laws when they deduct pay for rest periods or offset them against compensable waiting time, on-call time or other working time.
Also, a rest break in some instances could qualify as a reasonable accommodation for a worker with a disability, and failure to provide or at least discuss the issue could amount to unlawful discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Finally, workers who are nursing an infant have the right under federal law to a reasonable break time to express breast milk for a nursing child for one year after birth. Employers are required to provide a place for the lactation, other than a bathroom, shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or members of the public.
Call the Attorneys at Mansell Law if You’ve Been Denied Lawful Meal or Rest Breaks in New York
If you are a New York City employee who feels that your rights to a meal or rest break have been violated, call Mansell Law at 646-921-8900 for a free consultation with a skilled and knowledgeable New York employment lawyer.