At 10 am today, the California Supreme Court issued its 54 page decision in Brinker. The case was filed in 2004 by employees who challenged the company's meal and rest period practices. The case presented a number of legal issues. However, foremost among the issues is whether or not an employer is required to provide and ensure compliance with meal and rest periods, or whether the employer is required only to make them available to employees.
Here is a link to the Supreme Court's decision: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions-slip.htm Paste this website into your browser to take you to the opinion.
You will be happy with the Court's decision! Here is a quick summary of the Court's opinion:
1. An employer is obligated to provide an uninterrupted 30-minute meal period to employees. This obligation is satisfied if it relieves employees of all duties, relinquishes control over activities and permits a reasonable opportunity to take the meal period without impediment or discouragement. The employer is not obligated to police meal periods and ensure that no work is performed. An employee can waive the meal period by continuing to work. Further, proof that an employer had knowledge of employees working through a meal period does not alone subject the employer to liability for premium pay. The employee must show employer interference with that right.
2. Rest periods must be provided to employees as follows: 10 minutes for shifts of 3.5 to 6 hours; 20 minutes for shifts from 6 to 10 hours; 30 minutes for shifts from 10 to 14 hours, etc.
3. An employer is not required to provide a rest period before a meal period. However, an employer must make a good faith effort to permit rest periods in the middle of each work period unless practical considerations render it infeasible.
4. The meal period must be provide no later than the start of the employee's sixth hour of work. The second meal period must be provided no later than the start of the employee's eleventh hour of work (unless waived).
We hope you will join FLGZ at its Legal Beagle Bagel Breakfast this month discussing the impact of the Brinker decision on your operations. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, April 25th at 8 am in my office. Please register to attend in person, or by telephone, by contacting our receptionist, Danielle, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 559.256.5000.