January 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 27

Advertisement
Advertisement

January 27, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

January 26, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

January 25, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Ninth Circuit Asks California Supreme Court: Is Absence of a Formal Meal and Rest Break Policy a Violation of California Law?

In Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Court (Cal. 2012) 273 P.3d 513, the California Supreme Court explained that an employer must relieve the employee of all duty for the designated meal period, but need not ensure that the employee does not work. In other words, no policing of meal breaks by the employer is required; and employees can break themselves. Now, the Ninth Circuit is asking the California Supreme Court if employers must go further in spelling out formal policies on meal and rest breaks to comply with California law.

In Cole v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc. fka CRST, Inc. (9th Cir. 2019) Case No. 0:17-cv-55606, a truck driver filed a putative class action lawsuit against his employer alleging drivers were not provided with requisite meal and rest breaks or compensation in lieu thereof. The employer presented testimony that the drivers were expected to run their own trips and take breaks when needed and that California meal and rest break policies were posted on bulletin boards at the employer’s terminal. Relying on Brinker, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer. The district court also granted the employer’s motion to decertify the meal and rest break classes. On appeal, the employee claimed the district court erred because California law requires that employers affirmatively provide breaks by adopting a policy authorizing them. The plaintiff’s employer had no policy, nor did it record meal breaks on its payroll statements or pay for rest breaks.

By order filed August 1, 2019, the Ninth Circuit requested that the California Supreme Court resolve two certified questions: (1) Does the absence of a formal policy regarding meal and rest breaks violate California law? and (2) Does an employer’s failure to keep records of meal and rest breaks taken by its employees create a rebuttable presumption that the meal and rest breaks were not provided? The Ninth Circuit observed that the answers to these questions are dispositive of this case, and are not answered by clear California precedent.

Whether and how the California Supreme Court answers these questions likely will impact an employer’s willingness to formally codify meal and rest breaks into their own written policies, may cause employers to exert more control over employees’ meal and rest breaks, and may even begin eating away at the Brinker decision.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume IX, Number 218
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

 Sarah H. Scheinhorn Jackson Lewis Associate employment litigation
Associate

Sarah H. Scheinhorn is an Associate in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She represents employers in all aspects of employment litigation, including single-plaintiff harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination claims, and wage and hour class and representative actions. 

Ms. Scheinhorn practices in both state and federal court and before administrative agencies, including the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the California Department of Industrial Relations, and United States Equal Employment...

213-689-0404
Principal

Hazel U. Poei is a Principal in the Los Angeles, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice is focused on single-plaintiff, multi-plaintiff, and class action employment litigation in state and federal courts.

Ms. Poei has also handled arbitration proceedings and matters before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Ms. Poei has also prepared briefing to the...

213-689-0404
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement