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Illegal Auto Meal Deduction for Drivers

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Illegal Auto Meal Deduct, Auto Meal Deduction for Drivers

Many of you know that my law firm represents more drivers than any other law firm in California. I specialize in truck driver and delivery driver wage and hour class actions. And I represent the over 100,000 workers in the landmark California Supreme Court case Brinker v. Superior Court which sets out the duties that California employers must follow in order to meet their obligation to provide a meal period/ lunch break.  In this segment of  Wage and Hour Class Action Lawyer Straight Talk I take on one of the biggest rip-offs in the trucking industry - auto meal deduct/ auto meal deduction for drivers.


Driver Auto Meal Deduct / Auto Meal Deduction

How this all plays out in the real world for truck drivers and delivery drivers in California is that most California trucking and delivery truck companies not only do not meet their duty to provide a meal period - but they also automatically deduct a half hour’s pay from your wages. This is called auto deduct or auto meal deduct and/or auto meal deduction.

The trucking companies and delivery truck companies rationalize this by saying that since drivers are out on the road driving that they have to deduct a meal break because drivers are expected to take their meal periods. Many trucking companies and delivery truck companies make drivers either fill out a route sheet each day saying they took a meal period (some even make drivers put down the time of the meal period) and/or make drivers sign that they got their meal periods before they can get their paycheck.

These companies (and many of their drivers) erroneously assume because of all this that they have met their duty to provide a meal period and thus it is perfectly okay to deduct a half hours pay from the driver. Not so fast.  In fact, not even close.

Based upon case after case after case where I have represented drivers in California class actions, I can’t recall a company that did all of this legally. Seriously, they all screw it up.

In it’s simplest terms, they don’t meet all the California requirements for providing a meal period and they don’t meet the requirements in order to automatically deduct a half hours pay.  Under California law, employers have a lot of hoops they need to be able to jump over in order to get away with auto meal deductions.  I will let you know when I see even one of them do it properly.

Fact is, in case after case we have shown that the California trucking company didn’t jump over most of the hoop, let alone all of the hoops.  This is why if your employer is automatically deducting a half hour of pay from you (or an ex-employer); then you need to contact a seasoned California driver wage and hour lawyer.  

With auto meal deduct cases you are usually going to be entitled to an hours pay for every meal period where your employer failed to provide you a meal period.  “Provide” is the key term here. Just because you took a 30 minute meal period doesn’t mean your employer provided you a meal period under the law. For example, in the Brinker case, the trial court recently granted class certification on this very issue where Brinker contends employees got a meal period and that doesn’t meet the standard as laid out by the California Supreme Court.

In addition, you are entitled to have the half hours pay paid to you. And if you worked over 8 hours that day you are entitle to have it paid at the time and one half rate. Then you have to add in interest and waiting time penalties and you will see how quickly al of this really adds up.

Here is the bottom line - if you are a driver and your employer (or former employer) had an auto meal deduct, auto meal deduction policy and/or practice - - it is most likely illegal under California law. And, you are probably entitled to a lot of money in owed wages.


Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation. 

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
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