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Michigan Unpaid Meal Break Attorney

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average workday is 8.8 hours long. No one should work that long without food. No employer should expect their employees to be productive and performing well if they don’t provide them with time to eat a meal. But while requiring employers to give meal breaks to employees seems like a matter of common sense, it is surprisingly not a matter of law. Neither Michigan nor federal law requires meal breaks for adult employees.

However, many employers do have policies that facilitate meal breaks. When an employer commits to providing meal breaks but fails to allow workers to actually take those breaks or actively discourages them from doing so, it can be a violation of employee rights. So, too, can requiring an employee to clock out during a meal break if they are not relieved of all employment-related duties.

At Sommers Schwartz, P.C., our experienced employment law attorneys are passionately committed to protecting the rights and well-being of Michigan workers, including their ability to take promised meal breaks. We have extensive experience handling federal minimum wage and overtime lawsuits, holding unscrupulous companies to account, and obtaining compensation and justice for our clients.  

Meal Break Laws in Michigan

Under both state and federal law, employers must pay their employees for all hours they work. This includes particular periods that an employer may classify as a break. However, a bona fide meal break is an exception, and employers can require a worker to clock out for their meal break, provided an employer completely relieves the employee of all job duties. Notably, employers can ask that employees do not leave the premises for their meal breaks.

For example, an employer can ask an employee to clock out for their lunch break if the employee may sit in the breakroom and enjoy their lunch uninterrupted. However, an employer cannot demand that an employee clock out to take their lunch, and then interrupt the employee’s break by calling them back to work a few minutes later without letting them clock back in. In the latter situation, the employee’s break is not a bona fide meal break because they were not completely relieved of their duties.

What Employees Can Do if Denied Promised Meal Breaks

When an employer puts up roadblocks to their employees’ ability to take promised meal breaks or imposes work obligations during unpaid meal breaks, it can be difficult for individual employees to protest effectively. Usually, however, employers that engage in meal break and other wage and hours violations do so across the board or for a large number of employees. And when employees band together to fight back against infringements on their rights, their employer often has no choice but to take their claims seriously or face severe repercussions.

The way workers can collectively vindicate their employment rights is through class action employment litigation. In a class-action lawsuit, similarly situated and impacted employees file a claim on behalf of a larger group of workers who are victims of the same violations.

Class action lawsuits offer many benefits, including:

  • Allowing smaller dollar-amount claims.
  • Sharing the cost of litigation.
  • Increasing employee’s bargaining power.

Michigan Employment Lawyers Who Passionately Fight for Workers’ Rights

Unique, detailed, and technical rules apply to class action lawsuits, making them as complicated as they are critical to defending the rights of workers. That is why it is essential that the lawyers who fight on behalf of class action plaintiffs in employment law matters have the experience, knowledge, and advocacy skills to pursue and win such claims.

At Sommers Schwartz, our attorneys have amassed an impressive track record of success in class actions generally and in employment litigation in particular. We aggressively represent workers across Michigan in all types of wage and hour claims, including unpaid meal break claims, minimum wage violations, unpaid overtime claims, and more.

If you have questions about your rights as an employee or have concerns that your employer is violating your rights, please call 866-826-1793 to speak with one of Sommers Schwartz’s employment attorneys today.

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Jesse Young worked an employment case for me that ended with almost 700 people getting their unpaid wages back. He and his team are incredible. From the first communication to the last, they never missed a single beat – consistent and clear communication, quickly replying to my communication, and always making…

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