Nurses often work long and difficult hours. Unfortunately, they are routinely denied meal and rest breaks in compliance with California law. All too often, the hospitals and healthcare facilities do not have adequate break relief staff, forcing their front-line nurses to choose between their own needs and patient care. This usually means nurses are taking late meal periods and skipping rest breaks. This practice is an unfair and an improper choice, and it is a choice nurses should not have to make. Attorneys at Kershaw, Cook & Talley are successfully litigating claims on behalf of nurses who were not provided the meal and rest breaks to which they were entitled. Specifically, under California wage and hour law, an employee is entitled the following meal and rest periods:
• Meal Periods: An employer’s obligation is to provide a first meal period after no more than five hours of work and a second meal period after no more than 10 hours of work. As to each meal period, the employee must be relieved of all duty and must be allowed an uninterrupted 30-minute meal break. For each shift a compliant meal period is not provided, the employer must pay an additional hour’s wage.
• Rest Breaks: An employee is entitled to two 10-minute paid rest breaks for shifts lasting more than six hours and three 10-minute paid rest breaks for shifts lasting more than 10 hours. If the employee is not authorized and permitted to take one or more of these rest breaks, the employer must pay an additional hour’s wage.
Failure to comply with these meal and rest period requirements can also result in additional violations of California wage and hour law. For instance, if an employer does not provide proper meal and rest breaks—or pay the premium wages described above—this results in a violation of Labor Code section 226. The payment required for under Section 226 is $50 for the first pay period where there is a violation and $100 for each subsequent pay period, with a maximum recovery amount capped at $4,000.
As you can imagine, the amount of back pay is quite substantial. In a recent case settled by Kershaw, Cook & Talley, the class representative, an RN, received approximately $20,000. If you currently, or previously worked as an RN, at a healthcare organization and feel your employer violated California’s wage an hour laws, we are highly interested in speaking with you. It is unlikely they will change their meal and rest break practices unless individuals step forward and pursue claims against these organizations. Finally, if you are interested in pursuing your claim, you should act quickly since the statute of limitations may bar future recovery. Our nursing overtime class action attorneys, Bill Kershaw and Stuart Talley, can help protect your rights. Give us a call today at 888-997-5170.