California Court of Appeal Affirms Denial Of Class Certification In Important Decision Holding That Employers Must Only Provide Rest and Meal Periods and Need Not Ensure That They Are Taken

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In a decision recently certified for publication, Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., (October 28, 2010) __ Cal.App.4th __, 2010 WL 4244583, the Second Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order granting Chipotle's motion to deny class certification and denying the Plaintiff's motion for class certification. Chipotle is represented by Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in the litigation. The Chipotle decision is significant for several reasons. First, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's holding that an employer need only provide (i.e., authorize and permit) rest and meal periods, but need not ensure that employees actually take them. This issue is currently pending before the California Supreme Court in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, but the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court's analysis that the correct legal standard for rest and meal periods is whether the employer provided them to employees. It noted that requiring enforcement of meal breaks would place an undue burden on employers and create perverse incentives that would encourage employees to violate a company's meal policy to receive extra compensation under California's wage and hour laws.

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