Yesterday, the California Supreme Court in Brinker v. Superior Court (April 12, 2012) gave employers a major, if not complete, victory on the interpretation of California meal and rest period law. Most significantly, the Court held that employers must permit hourly employees to take uninterrupted 30-minute meal periods, but rejected the proposition that employers must “ensure” that employees take such meal periods. The Court also clarified issues relating to the timing of meal and rest periods. In particular, as one victory for the plaintiffs’ bar, the Court held that an employee’s first meal period must come no later than the end of his or her fifth hour of work.
These holdings are what most anticipated, although in litigating a case last year against the attorney who argued Brinker for the plaintiffs, she appeared to be a “true believer” that the plaintiffs would fully prevail on all presented issues.
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