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Employment Law/from colorado


I work from AM or AM to 6:30 or later depending on businesses. I am not given any breaks, not to be on the phone regarding anything personal unless its an emergency ( I assume ). I was told I could just eat while I worked (and be paid to do so) I am a cashier. I also smoke but I am not allowed to go outside while at work. Is this legal or do I fall in that exempt employee crap? I get paid by the hour. Most days I do not have time to eat because we are so busy and have lost 10 lbs in a few weeks. I don't mind not smoking but I would like to have at least 10 min to eat without interruptions lol. It might be that I am actually not entitled to a break of any kind? Just curious, Thanks!!


I can't be 100 percent sure you are a non-exempt employee without knowing more facts about your job, but unless you work is much different from what normally would go along with being a cashier, (presumably in a retail or food service establishment), then you are almost certainly non-exempt.  This means the provisions of Colorado Wage Order No. 29, which provides in relevant part:

7. Meal Periods:

Employees shall be entitled to an uninterrupted and "duty free" meal period of at least a thirty minute duration when the scheduled work shift exceeds five consecutive hours of work. The employees must be completely relieved of all duties and permitted to pursue personal activities to qualify as a non-work, uncompensated period of time. When the nature of the business activity or other circumstances exist that makes an uninterrupted meal period impractical, the employee shall be permitted to consume an "on duty" meal while performing duties. Employees shall be permitted to fully consume a meal of choice "on the job" and be fully compensated for the "on-duty" meal period without any loss of time or compensation.

8. Rest Periods:

Every employer shall authorize and permit rest periods, which, insofar as practicable, shall be in the middle of each four (4) hour work period. A compensated ten (10) minute rest period for each four (4) hours or major fractions thereof shall be permitted for all employees. Such rest periods shall not be deducted from the deducted from the employee’s wages. It is not necessary that the employee leave the premises for said rest period.


Under section 7, it is lawful for the employer to assign you to remain at your work post without a "duty free" meal period, if an uninterrupted meal period is "impractical."  I will assume for purposes of this discussion that the employer can meet that standard.  But if you know of facts suggesting otherwise, such as the availability of someone to fill in for you without disrupting their work schedule, then you could have an argument that you should be entitled to an unpaid 30-minute "duty free" meal break.

Section 8, however does not contain such an exception, which means that as a non-exempt employee you should be given a paid 10 minute break for each four hour work period.

To explore this further, I suggest you contact the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and speak to someone there to discuss the meal period issue.  There is a "contact us" link on this web page, which also contains a link to permit filing of a wage claim online:

You may also wish to contact a local employment attorney for additional advice before you talk with the DLE.  If you don't know an employment attorney in your area you can obtain a referral from your county or city Bar Association by doing an Internet search on the name of your county and city and the words "lawyer referral service."

I hope this is helpful to you.

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Frank C. Magill


I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.


30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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