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Michelle Cohen Levy

Can your employer tell you to work during lunch?

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2022 | Wage & Hour Laws |

You usually get half an hour for lunch every day. You almost never take this at your desk, although you do bring a lunch to work with you. You don’t have to leave to go pick something up.

Your employer notices this, and one day they come up to you and ask if you can just work through your lunch break. They tell you that everyone else is leaving for the break, but they want you to stay at the business and eat at your desk so that you can answer the phones or answer any emails that come in over that break.

Naturally, you feel frustrated that you’re essentially being told to lose your lunch break. Can your employer do this? 

It depends on your age

Many states have laws dictating when employees are supposed to get lunch breaks and how long those breaks will be. However, there is no federal law that regulates this and Florida has not put a state-specific law into place. This means that your boss is not legally required to give you a lunch break unless you have it in a contract, and so they can ask you to continue to work through that break.

The one exception to this rule is if you are still a minor. Workers who are 17 years old or younger are supposed to be given regular lunch breaks. For every four hours that they work, they deserve 30 minutes off. So, if you are still a minor and your boss tells you to do work through the break, they’re violating your rights.

However, this doesn’t give your employer the right to single you out. If your co-workers are getting lunch breaks every day and you aren’t, you may have a valid reason to dispute the practice. If you do believe that your employer has been treating you unfairly in regards to hours or pay, make sure you know what legal options you have.