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What are employee rights for a meal breaks in New York?

Some of the most basic aspects of employee rights are often unknown to workers. There could be many reasons for this from not understanding the law or pressure from the employer. Regardless, workers should be aware of such issues as their time allowed for meals and take legal steps, if these are not adhered to or they face wrongful termination because they asserted their rights.

A person who is employed in or connected with a factory has the right to a minimum of 60 minutes during the noon hours for a meal. People who are employed in or connected to a mercantile will be allowed a minimum of 30 minutes for a meal in the noon hours.

The noon hours extend from 11:00 to 2:00. For an employee who works a minimum of a six-hour shift that extends to the meal period, he or she can have 30 minutes off during that time. For those who work before 11:00 and continue to work later than 7:00, they will have an additional meal period for a minimum of 20 minutes between 5:00 and 7:00.

If a person works for a time-period or has a shift that lasts more than six hours between 1:00 and 6:00, he or she will be granted a 60-minute meal period, if working for a factory and 45 minutes for a mercantile or other establishment that falls into this category. There can be a shorter time allocated by the commissioner, but it must be in writing and should be posted near the main entrance of the workplace. This permit can be revoked at any juncture.

Those who are not allowed a meal break or other break, depending on their job and work hours should understand that they have the right to take this break without fear of termination or reprisal. If there is a situation in which an employer is not granting a worker the proper amount of time to have a meal break, it could be the foundation for a legal filing. Discussing a case with an attorney experienced in all aspects of employment law can provide more detail in pursuing compensation.

Source:, "Department of Labor -- Guidelines For Meal Periods," accessed on June 27, 2017

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