New York Labor Law (“NYLL”) §162 covers the requirements concerning employee meal periods.

NYLL §162(1) requires that all employees working in, or in connection with, a factory must be given at least a sixty-minute noon day meal. NYLL §162(2) requires that all other employees who work in excess of six hours must be given at least a thirty-minute noon day meal break.

The “noon day meal” is recognized as one that is taken during the period extending from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., meaning that the hours of employment must extend through the noon day meal period.

NYLL §162(3) requires that every person employed for a period starting before 11:00 a.m. and continuing later than 7:00 p.m. must be allowed an additional meal period of at least twenty minutes between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

NYLL §162(4) requires that all factory workers who work for more than six hours between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. must be given a sixty-minute meal break and all other workers who work for more than six hours between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. must be given a forty-five minute meal break.

Although it’s clear that most employees are in fact entitled to meal breaks, there is no private cause of action for alleged violations of NYLL §162, as the NYLL vests the New York Commissioner of Labor with the sole authority to enforce § 162. See Hill v. City of New York, 136 F. Supp. 3d 304, 351 (E.D.N.Y. 2015) (“[T]here is no private right of action to enforce [N.Y. Lab. Law] § 162.”). This means employees who are denied meal breaks to which they are entitled cannot bring a lawsuit in court, but instead, must present their claims to the New York Commissioner of Labor who is charged with regulating and enforcing the law.

If you are being denied meal breaks to which you are entitled under the law, contact a New York employment attorney to help enforce your rights.

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