Court hearing on meal & rest set for Nov. 8

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Oct. 7, 2011

More than three years ago, in July of 2008, the California Court of Appeal - Fourth Appellate District published their decision on the Brinker Restaurant Meal and Rest case. California law requires that employees get meal periods of at least 30 minutes every five hours and 10-minute rest periods every four hours, under Labor Code 512. The suit centers on whether employers must force employees to take breaks or just make them available.

The court found that it is not the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees take their meal and rest periods but instead must take all steps necessary to make the meal periods available.  The appellate court interpreted the word "provide" to mean "make available," as per Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. The decision was favorable for employers.

The California Labor Commissioner at the time, Angela Bradstreet, withdrew a memo that originally directed the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement staff to base meal period dispute decisions on the Court of Appeal’s interpretation.  The Labor Agency and employers were back to relying on the language of the wage order as currently written.

Plaintiffs in the case appealed to the California Supreme Court, arguing that the appellate court shouldn't have limited its interpretation to that single word, “provide”, but should have considered the context of the entire statute meant to protect employees. In October of 2008, the Supreme Court agreed to review the case.

Oral arguments have now been set for November 8th.  A final decision will be issued no later than February 8, 2012.

CMTA looks forward to a final decision by the Supreme Court affirming the Appellate Court’s opinion that “provide” means “make available”.

    If your company has been subject to litigation concerning California's Meal and Rest period laws, CMTA could use your help in collecting California Meal and Rest data.

    Participate in our survey to educate California lawmakers about the high costs of this difficult policy:

    All information will be confidential and no business or company-specific information will be disclosed to legislators. We will aggregate the data. Thank you in advance.

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