Watkins & Letofsky, LLP
Call For A Free Consultation

Can employers force workers to stay on site for meal breaks?

In California, employees must receive one lunch break of at least 30 minutes if they work a minimum of five hours at a time. Most businesses do not care if employees stay on-site or go out to eat as long as they come back within the requested amount of time. However, what should employees do if a boss requires them to stay on the premises no matter what during a meal break? 

This issue was the subject of a 2018 lawsuit titled Rodriguez v. Taco Bell Corp. In this case, employees alleged that Taco Bell did not allow them to leave the premises for meals. Instead, the company offered discounted food on the condition they stayed at the restaurant. Ultimately, the courts sided with Taco Bell. The reason was that the company did not forbid employees from leaving. The restaurant merely stated that if employees bought the discounted food, they had to stay in the restaurant to eat it. They could have gone out to eat elsewhere if they wanted. The purpose of this rule was to prevent the theft of discounted food, which employees theoretically could have given to other people. However, this does not mean employers can enforce rules on meal breaks in general.

Employers have no right to decide where you spend your meal break

Some employees like to go out to eat while others drive back home to eat lunch. Employees have the right to go wherever they please during meal breaks, and employers cannot force workers to stay. In the case with Taco Bell, the restaurant did not force employees to stay or go. They merely placed a requirement for employees who wanted to buy lunch there. No mandatory rules were in place, which is what California law requires. You have rights for your meal breaks, and you should proceed appropriately if you believe your employer has violated your rights. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Contact Watkins & Letofsky, LLP For more information about our practice, please contact us online
or by phone at 866-439-1295

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Watkins & Letofsky, LLP

Santa Ana Office
2900 S Harbor Boulevard., Suite 240
Santa Ana, CA 92704-6418

Toll Free: 866-439-1295
Fax: 949-476-9407
Santa Ana Law Office Map

Las Vegas Office
8215 S. Eastern Avenue
Suite 265
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Toll Free: 866-439-1295
Fax: 702-974-1297
Map & Directions

Review Us