Meal Periods In California For Truck Drivers, Delivery Drivers
Under California wage and hour law, your employer must provide you a meal period of at least 30 minutes if you work for a period more than five hours in a day. And your employer must provide you a second meal period when you work more than ten hours in a day. The key here is that your employer must actually relieve you of all duties. Based upon what we see, this is where California truck companies and delivery companies don’t satisfy their duty to workers.
The California Supreme Court directly addressed this in the landmark case - Brinker v. Superior Court. I know the Brinker case real well, because I represented the workers in the Brinker case. The Brinker Court held that your employer may not undermine a formal policy of providing meal breaks by pressuring employees to perform their duties in ways that omit breaks.
The Brinker Court held that California wage orders and governing statute do not allow your employer to exert coercion against the taking of, creating incentives to forego, or otherwise encouraging the skipping of legally protected breaks.
In order to satisfy it’s duty to provide you a meal period, your employer must do the following:
1. Relieve you of all duties.
2. Relinquish control over all of your activities.
3. Permit you a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break.
4. Not impede or discourage you from taking a meal period.
5. No provide you an incentive to forego a meal period.
What you are going to find is that many, many California employers simply do not meet this standard. We have found this in almost all industries in California, but especially in the truck driver and delivery driver industry. Time and again we have found California employers not meeting these standards to drivers in California.
Meal and Rest Breaks for drivers - duty free, means duty free
The California Supreme Court in the landmark 2012 case - Brinker vs. Superior Court held that workers must be relieved of all duties for meal breaks and rest breaks.
Many employers didn’t seem to believe it, and in 2016 the California Supreme Court held in the Augustus case that rest breaks also had to be duty free.
Me and my firm represented the workers in the Brinker case and when I wrote the Supreme Court amicus brief in the Augustus case I pointed out that the court had previously ruled in the Brinker case that meal breaks and rest breaks had to be duty free. Which is exactly what the Supreme Court said in the first page of the Augustus decision.
Duty free means duty free. Not a “few duties.” But no duties. For example, employers can’t require employees to be “on-call” during meal and rest breaks. For example, employees can’t be required to answer phone calls during meal breaks and rest breaks.
Having to answer the phone is a duty. And meal breaks and rest breaks must be duty free.
Employers can't suggest that you watch the truck and/or load during your meal breaks and rest breaks.
The employer is required to provide duty free rest breaks. Employees must be free to leave the work site during meal breaks and rest breaks. That is the employee must be free to take a brief walk - five minutes out, five minutes back for rest breaks - or 15 minutes our and 15 minutes meal breaks. This is the same for truck and delivery drivers.
Bill Turley is known as a straight - shooter ... this is why Bill is regularly invited to testify on California wage law before the
California Sate Senate and California Assembly
An Hour’s Pay For Every Violation
Under California law you are entitled to an hours pay every time your employer fails to meet their duty to provide you a meal period. These are called damages under the law. These damages (read: money) can really add up.
Here is a quick example, say you worked 260 days and you were not provided your first meal period and you earned $18 an hour.
260 x $18 = $4,680
In addition, if your employer automatically deducts a half hours pay from you each day (called “auto-deduct”); then you are entitled to get that half’s hour pay and if you work over 8 hours that day, you are entitled to getting time and one half.
This is just for one year for one single type of violation. In most cases we are talking four to five years or more. In addition, drivers are commonly entitled to an hours pay for rest period violations, waiting time penalties, auto-deduct wages, etc. So be sure to check out these other sections.
You're also entitled to your wages when you don't get a meal break
Many companies will either auto-decuct the half hour's wages for meal breaks or will make you record your meal break and then deduct the half hour of wages. If you didn't get your legal meal break (see above); then you are also owed the half hour's of wages back.
This call really add up over the course of a few months.
Employers duty to record meal periods (another great holding in the Brinker case)
(3) Time records showing when the employee begins and ends each work period. Meal periods, split shift intervals and total daily hours worked shall also be recorded. Meal periods during which operations cease and authorized rest periods need not be recorded.
My best advice is to research your rights as a delivery driver. I recommend you read my free book, California Truck and Delivery Driver Wage Theft: The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide To Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back. It is full of useful information to help you earn your money back. You can buy it on Amazon, but we will send you a free copy and cover shipping.
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