Brinker Decision Has Its Final Day in Court
Industry Association lauds California Supreme Court final rule on meal and rest periods as good for business
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 12, 2012
CONTACT: Sophia Taft; email@example.com
The California Supreme Court issued a final ruling this morning in the long-awaited case, Brinker v. Superior Court, clarifying state laws regarding employee meal and rest periods. After three years of arguments in the high-profile case, the court upheld that employers need only provide meal and rest periods, and not ensure that employees take them.
The appeal in the original lawsuit Hohnbaum v. Brinker Restaurant Corp. (2004), quickly caught industry attention as it subjected all employers to the continued abuse of class action procedures in meal and rest period cases. Advocating on behalf of construction employer groups statewide, the Associated General Contractors of California (AGC) closely followed the case and attempted legislation to address the far reaching issues surrounding meal and rest period breaks.
“Wage and hour litigation involving meal and rest period requirements has and continues to be costly for California employers with threats of class action lawsuits adding to the high cost of compliance,” said AGC chief executive officer Tom Holsman.
AGC’s efforts supported the lower court’s previous ruling effectively eliminating class action lawsuits against employers who do not provide meal and rest periods, as well as clarified the employer’s responsibility for providing meal periods. In July 2008, a California appeals court upheld industry arguments that meal and rest period breaks need to be provided, and that they do not always need to be taken in the middle of the four-hour work period. The court also held that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated meal and rest periods. The decision, however, was appealed to the California Supreme Court that October. Today’s California Supreme Court decision concurred with the lower court’s decision.
“The California Supreme Court issued a favorable decision for employers,” said Holsman. “Construction employees have long been provided meal and rest periods, and this decision upheld that enforcement without flexibility would be impractical for employers to run a construction project efficiently while preserving and protecting the health and safety of workers.”
AGC cautions employers to implement written policies overseeing employee meal and rest periods. For more information, contact the AGC Industrial Relations Department at (925) 827-2422 or (626) 608-5800.