Employee Breaks on Meal Periods

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Proper accounting and practices for employee rest periods has been a fraught issue for employers, with many class actions arising out of questions of whether employers had proper procedures in place. Recently, the California Supreme Court made an important change by ending meal period rounding. This change required employers to take extra steps to ensure they comply with the law and how employee breaks are given.

However, another decision has clarified certain practices for employers. In Salazar v. See’s Candy Shops, the California Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court ruling that denied class certification in a class action alleging that See’s had a consistent policy or practice of failing to provide legally required second meal periods.

The allegation arose from See’s providing employees with a work schedule, which listed the times employees should take but did not provide details of a second meal period. Plaintiffs argued this established a common policy of not providing second meal breaks.

Class certification was denied by the trial court and upheld by the Court of Appeal because it was determined that individual issues would predominate the case. The courts found that the work schedule provided by See’s was not sufficient to establish a policy of not providing second meal periods because there was evidence that a significant number of employees did take second meal breaks. This led to the conclusion that employees not taking breaks were doing so as a matter of choice.

While the law in this area can be tricky to navigate, it is essential to see what types of actions and policies are permissible for employers and which run afoul of the law. Here, the Court of Appeal provided some clarity for employers in navigating class action claims regarding meal periods.

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.