Law Office of Rick Morin

(916) 333-2222

Brinker v. Superior Court -- Meal and Rest Period Litigation

In April of 2012 the California Supreme Court issued a very important employment law decision. In Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, the court issued decisions in some long-debated areas of wage and hour law. This blog will focus on the court’s decision regarding an employer’s duty to provide meal periods and the impact on Sacramento businesses.

Most employers know that they are required to provide an employee with a meal period of no less than 30 minutes if the employee works more than five hours in a day. An employee can sue his or her employer if the employer prohibits the employee from exercising his or her right to a meal period. Brinker clarified this important area of employment law.

Specifically, Brinker ruled that while an employer must relieve an employee of all duty for their meal period, the employer is not required to “ensure that the employee does no work.”

This is an important decision for employers in Sacramento. In the past, Sacramento businesses have been sued because an employee has claimed that they were given a meal period, but they still did work. Brinker clarifies that an employer must relieve an employee of all duties during their meal period, but does not have to “police” the meal period to ensure that the employee does no work.

The court went even further in providing cover to employers: proof that an employer had knowledge of employees working through meal periods will not alone subject the employer to liability. This fits with the court’s message that an employer will not face liability as long as employees are given the opportunity for a proper meal period.

In short, Brinker provides employers with new legals tools to defend against baseless wage and hour claims by employees.

It is important for employers to follow the law when it comes to providing meal and rest breaks to employees. Staying up-to-date on new employment law matters will help ensure that you are always following the law as an employer.

Do not hesitate to contact my office at (916) 333-2222 if you need assistance with an employment law matter in Sacramento, including wage and hour claims.