Fenwick Employment Alert: Employers Must Make Meal and Rest Breaks Available To Non-Exempt Workers; Need Not Ensure Breaks Are Taken Or Force Employees To Comply

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In a victory for California employers, a California appellate court ruled that an employer?s duty to ?provide? rest and meal breaks to employees means that the employer need only make such breaks available to employees, and not that it ensure that employees actually take such breaks. In Brinker v. Superior Court, hourly employees of several Brinker restaurant chains filed a class action against the chains? owner for failing to provide rest and meal breaks and forcing employees to work off the clock. The trial court certified a class of nearly 60,000 workers, finding that the issues were common to all class members and could be litigated collectively. The court of appeal reversed, established a clear definition of what it means to provide a meal or rest break, and concluded that class treatment was inappropriate.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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