Panda Express Worker Describes Being Denied Break Multiple Times During Shift

Mason Joseph Zimmer
woman in Panda Express shirt rolls eyes from car
TikTok | @salina.555

After long-standing workplace grievances were pushed to their limit during the pandemic, we've seen a continuing cultural shift of workers deciding they're fed up with their jobs and shining a light on what makes them so intolerable.

Although it's been hard not to focus on the most dramatic examples that have seen a restaurant's entire staff quit en masse, we can see in smaller examples how a combination of questionable management practices and abusive customers have driven workers to their breaking point.

This trend has gone on for over a year and continues to affect multiple industries, but it's also true that specific businesses have their own controversial practices that would have flown under the radar if employees hadn't gone viral exposing them.

And in the case of one Panda Express employee, one issue that she's now speaking out against could cross the line from unethical to illegal.

On April 8, a woman named Salina shared an incident with her TikTok followers that cast a shadow over her first week working at Panda Express.

woman in Panda Express shirt talking in car
TikTok | @salina.555

As she described it, she had inquired to her shift leader — who she decided to call Ring — as to whether she'd be able to take a 10-minute break that day.

Interestingly, she mentioned saying, "I know you guys don't really get your 10s, but can I get my 10 today?"

She was told that this wouldn't be a problem and established that this break would be taken over the course of a standard eight-hour shift from 9 am to 5 pm.

By that point, it was already 3:30 pm and she hadn't had a break yet.

woman in Panda Express shirt talking in car
TikTok | @salina.555

And despite this assurance from Ring, that break still hadn't taken place by 4:30. And when she asked again, she was told that since there wasn't another employee on an open till, she wouldn't have time to take a break.

This left her speechless and prompted her to say, "I asked to get my 10-minute break and I was told that I couldn't get my 10-minute break" to the general manager.

Yet while he agreed that Salina should have had one by then and told her he would speak to the shift leader, she found that there was still no progress about 10 minutes before she was supposed to clock out.

woman in Panda Express shirt rolls eyes from car
TikTok | @salina.555

Eventually, Ring returned and told her that the delay had happened because they had to open two other register drawers and that she would be able to take her break after she closed her own.

The problem is that doing so takes 20 minutes so by the time she would finish closing her station up, she would have spent at least 10 extra minutes at work.

Not only would this timing make any break pointless, but it may not reflect the break intervals that Salina is supposed to be entitled to by law.

Because according to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are laws in the states of California, Kentucky, Vermont, Nevada, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington mandating specific break periods outside of lunch for employees.

In most cases, these laws require 10-minute breaks for each four-hour period spent working "or major fraction thereof," which meant Salina should have been able to take two by the time she clocked out.

So if this incident took place in any of the above states, her shift leader and general manager were trying to make excuses for illegal management practices.