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Is it legal for my employer to require me to change my timesheet?

Santa Rosa, CA |

My employer requires us to change break times on our "preliminary" timesheets and sign it to reflect at least 10 minutes, even if the punch and actual time is only 7 or 8. They have been sued in the past, and lost for labor break/lunch violations. It is at least 3 times per 2 week period. I fear that if I refuse, they will simply find a reason to fire me. When they were sued in 2011, they made all the other employees left take a settlement payment, much less than owed and sign an agreement that it was all that was needed. It was told to me "sign it and take the money, they wont give you any more". I've given notice now, and want to know if I have grounds for the new violations.

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Attorney answers 4


Your employer is prohibited from requiring you to alter your timesheets. However, if you have signed a waiver and release, which you appear to be describing, you would need to consult with an employment attorney to determine if that release relates to any of the claims you may be alleging now.



I have not signed any waivers. We are required to sign off on the sheet where the changes are made, saying we know. They do not want to get another lawsuit for not allowing full breaks/lunches. But in my opinion, making us change the time to reflect 10 minutes, when we only took 7 or 8 is wrong, and basically what they were sued for the first time.


Your employer should not make you change your timecard to reflect something that is not accurate.

In California, an employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than thirty minutes. If the total work period per day is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee. A second meal period of not less than thirty minutes is required if an employee works more than ten hours per day. If the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and employee only if the first meal period was not waived.

Employers must authorize and permit nonexempt employees to take a rest period that must, insofar as practicable, be taken in the middle of each work period. The rest period is based on the total hours worked daily and must be at least ten consecutive minutes for each four hour work period, or major fraction thereof. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement considers anything more than two hours to be a "major fraction." A rest period is not required for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half hours. The rest period is counted as time worked and therefore, the employer must pay for such periods. Since employees are paid for their rest periods, they can be required to remain on the employer's premises during such periods.

Whether you have a new claim is something that you will have to consult with an attorney to determine. You might benefit from consulting with an experienced employment law attorney and having them evaluate your case. The California Employment Lawyers Association maintains a list of employment law attorneys who represent employees against employers. Follow the link to:

Best of luck


You can refuse to change your time records, and if you are fired for refusing to change the records, you can sue. Of course, the difficulty is in proving that you were fired for that refusal, or for some other thing they come up with. Therefore you will have to decide what you need to do. Perhaps you start looking for another job while keeping good records on your own of how many times you were denied a full rest period. Then, when you find another job, and you are no longer financially dependent on that employer, you can make a claim for denied rest periods.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


Your employer cannot legally require you to commit fraud in changing your time cards to reflect a false record. However, it is unclear whether your employer is not permitting you to take the full break or if you are just not taking it--for other reasons, but he/she is encouraging you to actually take the full break. If your employer is not permitting you to take a full break, but is requiring that you reflect that you have--it seems that you have strong grounds for a wage/hour claim against the company. Your claim would be especially strong if you have other employees who will verify what you are claiming.

Ms. Engelman is the Owner and Founding Attorney at Engelman Law, APC in Beverly Hills, CA. Ms. Engelman can be reached for a free initial consultation at (310) 424-5889 or Any written responses to questions provided in this forum are based only on the limited information provided by the poster and do not substitute a thorough consultation with an attorney. Further, any response posted in this forum shall not constitute the existence of an attorney-client relationship unless otherwise expressly stated in writing.

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