Unfortunately, neither Michigan nor federal law requires employers to provide lunch breaks to employees 18 or older. But employers must give employed minors at least a 30-minute paid lunch break when they work more than five continuous hours.
However, employers may choose to provide lunch breaks as outlined in their employee handbooks or negotiate lunch breaks in an employment contract or union agreement. If an employer agrees to provide employee lunch breaks, it must allow its employees to take those breaks. If the employer withholds the breaks required under the agreement, the employee may sue for breach of contract.
Additionally, when employers offer short breaks (usually lasting about 5 to 20 minutes), federal law considers the breaks as compensable work hours that must be paid. Longer breaks do not need to be counted as time worked, but your employee may not interrupt these unpaid breaks with work tasks.
Employees with disabilities may be entitled to take breaks to control or attend to their conditions. An employee with a disability protected under Michigan’s Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act and the federal American with Disabilities Act is entitled to reasonable accommodation of their condition in their workplace.
Reasonable accommodation for disabled employees may include providing a lunch break or other periodic breaks. For example, workers with diabetes must manage their disease with treatment regimens like glucose monitoring, taking insulin, eating or drinking, and physical activity. For these workers, taking a meal break may be a reasonable accommodation. However, employers need not provide a requested accommodation if it would cause undue hardship to the employer. If an employer refuses on these grounds, the employee must prove the accommodation would not impose an undue hardship on the employer. If an employee with a disability can show that accommodation is not an undue hardship, they may be able to win a lawsuit against their employer.
You can learn more at https://www.sommerspc.com/employment/breach-of-contract/.
Our attorneys have been featured on local and national media outlets, including: