Can your employer require you to skip your meal breaks?

New York has several state laws that entitle employees with shifts that last at least six hours to receive meal breaks. Employees sometimes wonder whether their employers’ behavior violates their rights.

If the company that you work for makes you work without a required meal break, you may wonder if you have a claim under New York employment laws. You will need to ask yourself certain questions before you take any action.

Are you the only employee on the shift?

If your work schedule and employment status qualify you for meal breaks under New York law, there are still exceptions that may apply.

For example, if you are scheduled as the only worker on a shift and your employer can show that this is standard practice for their business model or industry, you may have to take a working lunch break that could get interrupted. However, you should still have the right to consume a meal while on the job.

Did your employer ask before scheduling you without a break?

Before your employer puts you in to this kind of position, they should talk to you to get your consent and advise you of your rights. They should let you know that the schedule they propose will mean that you don’t get to take lunch breaks and give you the opportunity to refuse.

If your employer did not give you any choice but to work without meal breaks or if they have otherwise violated your rights, you may want to consider whether a civil claim against them might change the way they treat their workers.

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