Can an employer force an employee to take an unpaid lunch break?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can an employer force an employee to take an unpaid lunch break?

My mother works 6 hours a day and never took breaks before. Now out of the blue her boss wants her to take a 30 minute unpaid lunch. He will not state why. The boss does not make a 7 hour per day younger male co-worker take a break. The lost time cannot be made up. My mother has been working in a similar capacity for over 40 years in food service without taking a lunch. There is plenty of work that won’t get done if the employees take lunch.

Asked on January 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

Archibald J Thomas / Law Offices of Archibald J. Thomas, III, P.A. - Employee Rights Lawyers

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Assuming the motive for requiring the lunch break is not discriminatory as prohibited by state and federal laws against discrimination, there is no legal prohibition against requiring an unpaid lunch break as you described.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your mother's boss probably can make her do this. Employers have near-total discretion to set hours, so just as the employer could shorten her day by 1/2 hour by starting later or ending earlier, it can have a non-working break in the middle. (If she actually does any work during that time, or is not free to leave the premises on her break, then it may count as work time, however.)

You mention a younger male coworker who is treated differently. If your mother believes that the differential treatment is due to either her sex/gender or her age (over 40; assuming he is under 40), then she *might* have an employment discrimination case, and may wish to consult with an employment law attorney to explore the possibility in greater detail.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption