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California Labor Law is Often Ignored by Employers

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Los Angeles, CAThere is little doubt that a common flavor in litigation over California labor law remains the missed meal breaks and rest periods due any non-exempt, hourly-paid worker under provisions in the California labor code and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Another common error appears to be the failure of an employer to include non-discretionary bonus pay, or incentive pay in calculations for overtime pay.

The allegation in the foregoing leaves the employee underpaid at the end of the day.

California labor employment law holds that non-exempt, hourly employees are provided with at least one rest period, as well as a meal break to last not less than 30 minutes and to be taken prior to the start of the fifth consecutive hour of work. Such statutes are designed to help keep an employee fresh and engaged at the task at hand, through a provision for regular rest intervals and proper nourishment.

For employees who work around, or operate heavy machinery, such provisions are of paramount importance. And yet, it appears as though a growing number of employers are either ignorant of such provisions, or simply ignore both the California labor code and the importance of helping their employees remain healthy and accident-free.

A recent class action lawsuit alleges violations to California state labor laws. The defendant in the case is identified as Interstate-RIM Management Company LLC. The allegation from the lead plaintiff in the class action is that Interstate-RIM dropped the ball when it came to providing their employees regular rest periods and meal breaks, and also failed to include incentive pay when overtime pay was calculated as required.

Overtime pay, as most know, is based on a computation of time-and-one-half of a non-exempt employee’s regular hourly rate of pay for each hour an employee worked beyond 8 hours in any given day, or 40 hours in any given week. Including non-discretionary incentive pay in a calculation for overtime pay effectively raises an employee’s hourly rate for the window in which the incentive pay was provided. The higher hourly rate would result in a higher rate for overtime pay.

By excluding incentive pay in overtime pay calculations, the employer is effectively denying the employee the full scope and measure of overtime pay due.

A similar situation comes into play when an employee is denied, or misses due to circumstance and work commitments a meal break and rest period as mandated under California employee labor law. A missed meal break or rest period translates to that employee working through their breaks, thus putting the employee in line for owed overtime.

By not counting a missed meal period or rest break as time worked, the employee is further denied overtime pay.

The lawsuit is Nancy Ramirez et al v. Interstate-RIM Management Company, LLC, Case No. BC624979, currently pending in the Superior Court of the State of California.


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I work at Lassen Community College and my shift starts at 3:00pm. There are 3 evening custodians and we each take a 30 minute lunch hour starting at 8:00 to 9:00pm. My lunch break is from 8:30-9:00 and my co workers is from 9:00pm-9:30pm. From what I read about the meal law this would put our meal time past the 5 hour meal law. Is there anything we can do about this since it appears that our supervisor who assigned us these meal times is breaking the California Meal time law?


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