Brinker Case Decided
Today, the California Supreme Court finally released its long-awaited decision in the Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court case. The Brinker case is extremely important to all California employers because it involves employers’ obligations relating to meal and rest breaks.
The most critical part of the unanimous ruling is that employers do not have to ensure that employees take their meal breaks, but must merely make them available. The court also provided flexibility to employers with regard to the timing of meal and rest breaks.
According to the court:
To summarize: An employer’s duty with respect to meal breaks under both section 512, subdivision (a) and Wage Order No. 5 is an obligation to provide a meal period to its employees. The employer satisfies this obligation if it relieves its employees of all duty, relinquishes control over their activities and permits them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break, and does not impede or discourage them from doing so. What will suffice may vary from industry to industry, and we cannot in the context of this class certification proceeding delineate the full range of approaches that in each instance might be sufficient to satisfy the law.
According to Erika Frank, California Chamber of Commerce General Counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs, “Employers have finally received some much-needed clarity in a common sense decision from the California Supreme Court that will provide certainty and flexibility to employers and employees allowing them to effectively manage their workload and serve their customers and clients. One of the most significant benefits of this ruling is that it will reduce employers’ exposure to costly and frivolous litigation.”
Stay tuned to HRWatchdog for more information and analysis.
Author: Gail Cecchettini Whaley
HR Watchdog, HRCalifornia’s Employment Law Blog, © California Chamber of Commerce