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Did You Know…The California Supreme Court Has Clarified Meal and Rest Period Obligations

Posted in Class Actions, Court Decisions, Wage and Hour

The California Supreme Court finally issued its long-awaited decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court.  In a unanimous opinion, the Court held employers (1) need only provide meal and rest periods, not ensure nor police that they are taken, (2) are not required to provide a meal period every five hours (no rolling meal periods), and (3) are required to provide rest periods of ten minutes for each four hours of work “or major fraction thereof.”

The Court also addressed several class certification issues.  The Court held that (1) a class should not have been certified regarding the employee’s claims that they worked “off-the-clock” during their meal breaks without compensation because there was (a) a policy prohibiting off-the-clock work without compensation and (b) no evidence of a systematic company policy to pressure or require employees to work off the clock, (2) the trial court properly certified a rest period subclass on the basis that Brinker’s rest period policy did not comply with Wage Order No. 5 by failing to take into consideration of “major fraction thereof”, and (3) the trial court should reconsider the definition of the meal period subclass.

Overall, the decision is a significant victory for employers.  Nonetheless, Brinker is not the death knell of wage and hour class actions.  Please read our full e-alert for further information on the Brinker decision and its implications.