CMTA joins petition re meal & rest period certification cases

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, March 13, 2014


CMTA and others have joined onto an amicus letter in support of a petition for review related to the Brinker Restaurant Corporation v. Superior Court meal and rest case.  At issue in the petition is the misinterpretation of Brinker as it relates to class certification.  The argument is that certification cannot rest on the plaintiff’s mere allegation of a common practice, where the undisputed evidence shows exactly to the contrary. 

Our letter reads in part …

If trial courts continue to certify class actions (as the trial court did in this case) without reference to whether an employer was providing employees breaks, simply because a plaintiff has alleged that the employer had a uniform policy that was unlawful (no matter how hyper-technical the alleged violation), the number of these class actions will rise substantially, at an extreme cost to California business and California’s judicial system.

A meal break class cannot be certified, and an employer is forced to defend an expensive class action, merely because a plaintiff has alleged an unlawful uniform policy.  There must be a consideration on class certification as to whether the plaintiffs can prove the effect of that policy—that an employer was not providing meal breaks—on a class-wide basis.  Questions as to the effect of the policy, not merely just the existence of the policy, must predominate for a class to be certified.

We conclude …

The trial court’s decision supports a near automatic certification of meal break claims brought on hyper-technical policy grounds, even if the employer was providing breaks in accordance with California law.  Review is needed to resolve the uncertainty regarding the certification of meal break claims under California law.

CMTA was pleased with the decision rendered by the California Supreme Court, which concluded providing a meal or rest period does not require the employer to ensure no work is done, and we support of the clarification sought through this latest effort.

Attached is a copy of the amicus letter for your review: pdf.

Click here to review CMTA’s previous summary of the Brinker case decision:

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