Say that James works at startup in USA. About 10% of the time, James is so busy doing work for the company that he does not even get time to take lunch breaks, until 8 hours or more of working. Often James, is busy answering customer calls or attending meetings.

James needs breaks. But, its a startup and everyone is expected to work like crazy. Moreover, when he has scheduled meetings with geographically distributed clients who have dedicated their time, he cannot drop off their calls for a tiny break. It might look unprofessional. What can he do in situations when he cannot take breaks ?

  • 7
    What do you mean by "does not get time to take lunch breaks" ... is someone telling him not to have lunch or its just some perception James has? What happens if James stands up from his desk and goes out to lunch?
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 5, 2017 at 22:31
  • A company that doesn't allow an employee to rest and eat is a bad one. Companies would do well not to crack a whip but motivate employees through shared belief in their products and services and worked as a team.
    – hookenz
    Oct 5, 2017 at 23:11
  • "in USA which is located in a state that is unlike California or New York" - if you want a location-specific answer, indicate the actual location (state). Saying that it is a state that is "unlike" this or that other state is not clear enough.
    – Brandin
    Oct 6, 2017 at 9:34
  • He can schedule and take lunch breaks. Depending upon locale, not doing so may be illegal.
    – jmoreno
    Oct 7, 2017 at 4:02

2 Answers 2


In the USA it is federally illegal to not allow a lunch break during an 8 hour period. Basically if James wants/needs a lunch break he should be able to at least stop for 30 min. and each lunch off the clock during an 8 hour work day. If his employer refuses him this then there is grounds for a lawsuit.

So what should James do?

  1. Either willingly sacrifice his lunch and eat while working or go without and be happy about it.
  2. Take a lunch break regardless of how busy things are (work will always be there) and let the boss know he is taking a 30 min lunch (might need to leave the office).
  3. Find another job that allows him to take a lunch break without conflicting with his work requirements.
  • 1
    No, federally it's fine. Some states have stricker requirements.
    – jmoreno
    Oct 7, 2017 at 4:02

I am almost certain that every state in the US has labor laws that require breaks for every 4-5 hours worked. Therefore, James should contact a labor attorney to explore his options.

But a less extreme option would be to talk to his manager about it first. Bring up that he feels overworked and needs a break in order to keep his stress under control.

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