Defending Employers In Meal And Rest Break Disputes

While neither the Fair Labor Standards Act nor Texas law requires employers to provide employees with meal or rest breaks, most employers choose to. Unfortunately, some employers run into legal disputes over whether these breaks should be paid.

At Key Harrington Barnes PC, our attorneys defend employers in class action lawsuits concerning wage and hour disputes, including disputes over meal and rest breaks. However, we would rather help you avoid litigation by advising you when meal and rest breaks should count as time worked. Based in Dallas, we advise employers throughout Texas.

When Do I Have To Pay Employees For Meal And Rest Breaks?

Under the FLSA, employers must pay for hours worked. Hours worked includes small breaks of five to 20 minutes. It also includes meal breaks if the employee does any work during the break. It's very easy for employees who eat lunch at their desk or work station to perform activities that are considered work. Here are just a few examples:

  • Reading company email
  • Covering a phone
  • Waiting for a delivery

While an employer may refer to the time as a lunch break, the government may take a different view. Over time, the amount of pay for which an employer may be liable can be significant. If nonexempt employees work over a lunch period, you could be liable for overtime if the breaks push them over 40 hours a week. If several employees are similarly affected, your company could face a class action lawsuit. You could be responsible for liquidated (double) damages and plaintiff attorney fees. Your company could face hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in expenses simply because some employees performed some work activities during their lunch breaks.

For Help In Determining Whether Meal Breaks Should Be Paid

To avoid costly civil penalties and lawsuits over unpaid meal and rest breaks, call our Dallas lawyers at 214-615-7925 or send us an email using our contact form.