Reading this article on your break? According to a lawsuit recently granted class action status in a California state court, you may be enjoying something illegally denied to Apple employees.

On July 21, Judge Ronald S. Prager of the Superior Court of California granted class action status in a labor and employment case for nearly 21,000 retail employees and workers at Apple’s California corporate headquarters. The employees had complained that the tech giant had not provided timely meal and rest breaks, and often, employees were denied breaks at all.

California law stipulates that employers are required to offer a 30-minute meal break within the first five hours of a worker’s day, a 10-minute rest break every four hours, and a second rest break for shifts that run between six and 10 hours.

In his ruling certifying the class, Judge Prager wrote that these second breaks in particular were often not authorized at Apple. He said that class action status “is the only feasible method to fairly and efficiently adjudicate these claims.”



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The suit claimed that Apple’s working conditions “allow Apple to invoke fear” in employees so that “if they so much as discuss the various labor policies, they run the risk of being fired, sued or disciplined.”

In August 2012, Apple adopted a new policy that aimed at fully complying with these laws. However, the lawsuit in this case was filed nine months earlier. The lawsuit covers violations between April 2007 and August 2012. The judge also noted that Apple had no record of any employee receiving compensation for missed breaks before November 2012.

“The common thread here is Apple’s formal policy did not provide for meal periods and rest periods on a timely basis,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Tyler J. Belong to the New York Times.

The class has not yet made financial demands in the case, and Apple has issued no comment on the pending litigation.