California Supreme Court Clarifies Employer Meal and Rest Period Obligations


Subject to limited exceptions, California law requires employers to provide employees who work more than five hours per day with at least one meal period of 30 minutes or more and a 10-minute rest period for every four hours worked or “major fraction thereof.” If an employer fails to provide an employee with either a meal or rest period, the employer is required to pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal or rest period was not provided.

While these laws may appear straightforward, conflicting interpretations of the obligations imposed upon employers have caused considerable debate and much litigation in recent years. On April 12, 2012, the California Supreme Court finally addressed these issues in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Sup. Ct.

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