Law Office of Curtis Cooper, LLC

Representing clients in the fields of employment, disability, and civil litigation

Find us on Facebook

(410) 825-4030

Hours 9 - 6 EST

Weekly

Topic of the Week  Can your employer deny you a break?

Surprisingly, there are no federal laws requiring meal and rest breaks. This area of the law has been left mostly to states with only 20 requiring meal breaks and 9 requiring rest breaks. Most employers do provide meal breaks and may be required to provide breaks for specific religious or health reasons. 


 

 

If you need break time for religious practice: 
Can your employer legally deny you this time? It depends. When your employer's workplace policies interfere with your religious practices, you can ask for what is called a "reasonable accommodation:" a change in a workplace rule or policy which would allow you to engage in a religious practice without conflicting with your work obligations.

Your employer is required to provide you with such an accommodation unless it would impose an "undue hardship" on the employer's business, defined as an accommodation that is too costly or difficult to provide. It is important for you to work closely with your employer to find an appropriate accommodation.

Whether your employer can accommodate your religious practices, such as prayer or Bible study, will depend upon the nature of the work and the workplace. Usually, your employer can allow you to use lunch or other break times for religious prayer. While the employer may argue that giving breaks to only one employee would be an undue hardship, a number of factors must be balanced to determine whether it will be too costly or difficult to provide this accommodation in your workplace.

If you require additional time for prayer or must go to another location away from your immediate work area, you can still be accommodated if the nature of your work makes flexible scheduling workable, but your employer can require you to make up the time.

When you need break time to tend to you medical needs:
Can your employer legally deny you this time?It depends. If you are able to perform all of the essential functions of a job, except for those your disability prevents you from performing, the Americans with Disabilities Act and many state disability laws require that your employer provide you with a "reasonable accommodation," which is an adjustment or modification provided by an employer to allow you to enjoy equal employment opportunities as individuals without disabilities.

Accommodations vary depending upon the needs of the individual applicant or employee. Not all people with disabilities (or even all people with the same disability) will require the same accommodation. Additional or more frequent breaks are a form of reasonable accommodation. For example, an employee with diabetes may need regularly scheduled breaks during the workday to eat properly and monitor blood sugar and insulin levels, while an employee with cancer and undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments may need more frequent rest breaks. It is important for you to work closely with your employer to find an appropriate accommodation for your disability.

An employer is not required to make an accommodation for a known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would impose an "undue hardship" on the employer's business. Undue hardship is defined as an accommodation requiring "significant difficulty or expense." An employer is not required to lower quality or production standards to make an accommodation, or excuse violations of conduct rules necessary for the operation of an employer's business. While the employer may argue that giving breaks to only one employee would be an undue hardship, a number of factors must be balanced to determine whether it will be too costly or difficult to provide this accommodation in your workplace.

If you require additional time for breaks or must go to another location away from your immediate work area, you can still be accommodated if the nature of your work makes flexible scheduling workable, but your employer can require you to make up the time.

If you are not considered disabled under the ADA, your employer may not have a legal obligation to give you breaks. However, you should still talk with your managers and/or the company's HR department to see whether the company is willing to accommodate your needs voluntarily.

Thought of the Week

""

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Workplace Fairness

    Top Employee Rights Searches During the Holidays:

    • Unpaid Wages
    • Vacation Pay
    • Sex and Gender Discrimination
    • Final Pay
    •  

    Archive

    Information Center

    We offer a wealth of free workplace-related information in our Employee Rights and Information Center.

    Select a topic to continue:

    Index Your Rights Protect Your Rights

    Contact Us

    401 Washington Avenue

    Suite #200 Towson, MD 21204

    (410) 825-4030

    Hours 9 - 6 EST

    (410) 510-1831

    Fax Number