California Supreme Court Ends Meal Period Rounding

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A court case that began five years ago reached a final decision with the California Supreme Court early this month, and it marks an important change that all employers need to take notice of.

Donohue v. AMN Services LLC is an action brought by a nurse recruiter. The plaintiff argued that her employer’s practice of rounding her meal period times to the nearest ten-minute increment resulted in her receiving pay shortages. This rounding policy, some form of which is wide spread among employers with hourly workers, did not reflect short or delayed meal periods, according to the plaintiff. The employer was initially successful in defending the case with the California Court of Appeal ruling in 2018 that the policy was valid.

However, the Supreme Court then agreed to hear the case. The Court found the practice invalid and declared that the 30-minute break period exists to prevent even minor infringements. The Court stated that rounding the employees time fails to live up to this standard in the meal period requirements.

The ruling is vital for employers to be cognizant of. It underscores the need for employers to have clear, specific guidelines for meal and break periods, and to ensure that they completely follow the requirements set out, including this new ruling from the California Supreme Court.

With the constant changes that can impact a business, an experienced legal team can help navigate a difficult time for businesses, particularly with the ever-changing landscape for companies during the current crisis.