California’s labor laws are among the toughest in the nation. California employment laws often go beyond federal standards, meaning that employers must also go beyond federal standards. California's Wage Order #9 is a state employment law that applies to transportation workers.
California's Wage Order #9 was enacted by the California State Department of Industrial Relations on July 1, 2004. The law guarantees meal and rest breaks for non-unionized transportation workers. Unionized workers generally have these breaks written into their labor contracts.
Section 11 of California's Wage Order #9 requires employers to provide one uninterrupted 30 minute meal break for every five hours of work. During this half hour, the employee must be relieved of all duties and not be under employer control. Sitting in your truck while you are clocked out for half an hour does not qualify as a meal break.
Many California trucking and delivery companies try to meet this obligation by automatically deducting thirty minutes of your work time for a mandatory meal period. You may have to verify that you received this meal period when you sign off on your route sheet. But, if you aren’t getting a legally compliant meal break, you are being cheated—you are having pay deducted for a meal break that you never got.
Section 11 of California's Wage Order #9 mandates a 10 minute rest period for every four hours (or major fraction of four hours) that the employee works, as long as the employee works more than three and a half hours. This rest period should be provided in the middle of the four hour period, and the employee should be relieved of all duties at that time. However, truck drivers and other transportation workers rarely get these breaks.
Are You Getting Your Meal Periods and Rest Breaks?
In our experience, very few California drivers get the breaks they are entitled to under Wage Order #9. If you aren’t receiving your guaranteed meal periods and rest breaks, your employer must pay you an amount equal to one hour of your wages. If lunch means picking up a burger at the closest drive-thru and eating it behind the wheel, you are not getting your meal period. What can you do?
Contact an attorney with experience in California wage and hour cases. The attorney will be able to tell you if you have a case. If you were denied your rights, you will eligible for compensation for your meal breaks and your legal fees. Get more information in our book, California Truck & Delivery Driver Wage Theft: The Ultimate No B.S. Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back.