Numerous changes to California employment laws have developed over the past year. Employers determined to steer clear of possible legal action must familiarize themselves with the new legislation and take necessary steps regarding the amendments emerging as a result of consequential class action lawsuits. Interestingly, two decisive lawsuits that are playing a role in amending California employment laws are both related to the issue of employee meal and rest breaks.
Denied Meal and Rest Periods
A decision by the California Supreme belviq class action lawsuit Court in 2011 ruled in favor of a class action lawsuits filed by dozens of employees. The employees claimed that they were denied both meal and rest breaks by their employer and requested a change in premium pay policy. Until now, the labor board in California required employers to pay one hour of premium pay per day, regardless of the number of meal and rest periods missed. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the employees who called for entitlement of two hours of premium pay for missing both one meal and one rest period.
In light of this verdict, employers must ensure that their employees are provided with adequate breaks for both meals and rest. Employers must afford nonexempt employees with a 10-minute paid rest break for every 4 hours of work.
Enforce or Provide Meal and Rest Periods?
Employers are waiting for a verdict in a drawn out class action lawsuit which is scheduled to conclude this spring. The central issue to be resolved is whether or not employers are required to *enforce*, or merely *provide*, the opportunity for meal and rest breaks for employees. The case has been combined with a collection of other cases pertaining to related issues, such as the timing of rest periods. Can employers be flexible in the timing of rest breaks, or are they obligated to specifically provide rest periods during the middle of each work shift?
For large employers, or those currently facing similar class action lawsuits, the outcome of this class action is particularly pertinent as an unfavorable ruling will create logistical challenges that will require them to reassess their current lunch and break period schedule. In the interim, employers are recommended to proceed cautiously and ensure that employees are availing themselves of meal and rest breaks and that meal and rest periods are generally granted in the middle of the shift. Policies of this nature will prevent difficulties in the case of an unfavorable ruling for employers.