Oregon Lunch Break aka Meal Periods

Oregon Lunch Breaks:
Lunch breaks are called meal periods under Oregon law. Oregon Regulation for Lunches. Oregon’s law generally requires lunches be at least 30 minutes long. In practice, most employers keep lunches, meal periods, between 30 to 60 minutes in length. Where the lunch break is taken, the employee need not be paid. However, if the meal period is interrupted, the employer likely must pay the full meal period (lunch). For example, employee is sent on a 30 minute lunch. After being on lunch for 20 minutes, the store gets busy and the employee comes back to work. Thus, the employee works 10 minutes of the 30 minute meal period (lunch). The easy part to understand, is that the employee is due 10 minutes of wages for the time they work during their meal period (lunch). The work performed during the lunch is no different than any other work. Thus, the employer must also include the lunch wages in their calculation for overtime and minimum wage.

The more difficult part to understand is that the law requires meal periods be paid when the lunch break is shorter than 30 minutes. Oregon Regulation for Lunches. This means in the 20 minute lunch break example, in addition to the 10 minutes of work time, the employer must pay an additional 20 minutes of time for the rest of the lunch break. This means that the employee is paid for time they were eating their lunch and otherwise completely relieved of duties. This is where many employers under pay their employees. Instead of paying for the full lunch period they will only pay the 10 minutes of actual work time. Other examples can be given. Recently a large hospital was fined by the Bureau of Labor and Industries for failing to provide proper lunches, including lunches that were only one minute short of being complete. Electronic time clocks are your friend in the short lunch break claims. They allow you to use the employer’s own records to prove that you are due additional wages from your employer because your lunch breaks were required to be paid in full.

Oregon Lunch Break Penalties
Oregon lunch breaks or meal period laws not only require payment of wages for short meal periods, they may also require payment of a civil penalty. The civil penalty could equal up to 30 days of wages. It is calculated by multiplying the regular hourly rate, by 8 hours per day, for each day the lunch wages were not paid, for a maximum of 30 days. In the case of an employee making $15 per hour, the maximum penalty could be $3,600. ($15 * 8 * 30 = $3,600).

Oregon Lunch Break Class Action Lawsuits
Oregon lunch breaks or meal period laws can be proven through employer electronic records. Employers who have punch clocks, or electronic time clocks, and require employees to clock out for the lunch breaks, leave a trail for class action attorneys to follow. Time clocks are generally programmed to treat all employees the same. So of the employer is deducting a full 30 minutes no matter how long the lunch break takes, then the employees may be due unpaid wages and penalties. The same is true if the employer is paying wages only for the time spent during the lunch on-the-clock, and is not paying for the time the employee is clock-out for their lunch break. (assuming the lunch break is shorter than 30 minutes). In addition to wages, the employees could each be due the same 30 day civil penalties for the lunch break violations discussed above. Sometimes class actions make larger employers pay attention and stop taking advantage of employees and follow the lunch break laws set out to protect the health and safety of employees.

Failing to Pay Wages for Lunch Break Could Cause Other Violations and Penalties
When Oregon employers fail to pay for lunch breaks or meal period as the law requires, it could also cause other wage law violations. Under Oregon law, employers must pay final wages to employee timely when the employment ends. The time the wages are due varies depending upon how the relationship ends. (Quit/fired). However, if those wages, including lunch break wages, are not timely paid at the end of the employment, penalties could attached. These late pay penalty wages could be brought by individuals who were not paid for their lunches or as groups in class actions. For a more complete description of the late payment of final wages claim, see Late Pay Page.

Can I Sue My Oregon Employer for not Giving Me a Full 30-Minute Lunch break?
Generally Yes, our lawyers can sue for short lunch breaks. Currently it appears that an employee who was provided a short lunch break can sue their employer for failing to pay wages. Because In each of these instances, some amount of wages are due for the lunch break violation. Oregon Regulation for Lunches. In addition to the unpaid lunch break wages, you could be due a civil penalty under Oregon wage laws. The civil penalty for lunch break violations can equal up to 30 days of wages.

Can I Sue My Oregon Employer for Deducting 30 Minutes From My Paycheck for Lunch breaks I did not Get?
Likely yes, our attorneys can sue for the deduction of wages associated with lunch breaks. If you did not receive your 30-minute lunch break and your employer deducts 30 minutes of wages from your check, they you are likely entitled to unpaid wages. In addition to the unpaid lunch break wages, you could be due a civil penalty under Oregon wage laws. The civil question for lunch break violations can equal 30 days of wages.

Can I Sue My Oregon Employer for Not Receiving My 30 Minute Lunch Period?
If the employee worked any part of your lunch break, then likely yes the employee can sue for not receiving their lunch breaks as described above. If the employee simply worked 8 hours straight with no lunch break, then no, a lawsuit likely cannot be filed to recover for the missed lunch breaks. Just because our lawyers cannot sue for not receiving lunch breaks does not mean that the failure to provide the lunch break does not violate Oregon law. The Bureau of Labor and Industries can fine the employer for failing to give lunch breaks. However, the employee cannot sue the employer to recover penalties for the missed lunch breaks. Recently BOLI fined a large hospital over $100,000 for repeated lunch break violations. Unfortunately, the fines that BOLI can assess for missed lunch breaks or short lunch breaks do not go to the employee.

Wage Claim Attorneys
The lawyers at Schuck Law, LLC focus their law practice on wage claim lawsuits. Our attorneys regularly prosecute Oregon wage claim lawsuits for employees who were not provided their full lunch break or whose employer deducted the full lunch break from the employee despite not providing the lunch break. In addition to the claims for damages outlined above, an employee may also sue to recover their costs, disbursements, and attorney fees incurred in prosecution of the wage claim lawsuit. This allows the lawyers at Schuck Law, LLC to take most wage claim lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This means, with minor exceptions that are within your control, that our lawyers only get paid their attorney fees if they recover wages for you.

The lawyers at Schuck Law, LLC prosecute Oregon lunch break, late pay, and other wage claims throughout Oregon, including but not limited to, Portland, Astoria, Beaverton, Bend, Clackamas, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Hillsboro, Hood River, Klamath Falls, Lincoln City, Madras, McMinnville, Medford, Portland, Sandy, St. Helens, and Tillamook.

Google By David Schuck