As a worker in New York, you have certain protections in place that ensure you won’t be treated unfairly — like being denied food or rest breaks. Knowing guidelines such as these can help you spot signs of illegal break denial and fight against it.

The New York State Department of Labor (DOL) has meal period guidelines available on their site. This can be used to show how many meal breaks any employee should get, from management to white- and blue-collar workers. Extremely short meal periods of 20 minutes can only be offered after the DOL has investigated and issued a permit. Average shortened meal periods are considered to be 30 minutes, and are only applicable if the shorter time doesn’t cause you any inconveniences.

Additionally, there are some situations in which you may have to eat on the job. For example, if you’re the only person working a shift, you typically won’t be able to “clock out” for lunch and leave the position abandoned for however long your lunch break is. This can also hold true if you’re the only person filling a certain position, even if other people are working at the time. On the other hand, if you request uninterrupted meal time, your employer must comply.

Eating is an important part of ensuring that workers like you are able to have a productive and healthy work day. If you feel like you’re being shortchanged or offered inadequate meal breaks, you may wish to check the New York state laws to see if any violations are being made.