According to the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Department of Labor does not enforce an eight-hour workday or mandate specific breaks; it does, however, require payment for breaks shorter than 20 minutes. Nineteen states have laws governing workday breaks, though only seven states enforce eight-hour workday rules, as of 2013.

As the Department of Labor explains, California, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Washington require a half-hour lunch break after five hours of work. Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Tennessee also require a half-hour lunch break with different specifications as to when it must occur.

State laws on lunch breaks vary drastically. For instance, New York requires a one-hour lunch break for anyone working more than six hours in a workday, while West Virginia only mandates a 20-minute break. Kentucky, Minnesota and Vermont only require a "reasonable" or "sufficient" period of time for lunch. Illinois only requires half-hour lunch breaks for hotel room attendants, mandating two 15-minute rest breaks as well.