Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Employers' Meal/Rest Period Obligations Under Brinker

The Second District California Court of Appeal, Division Eight, ruled for the second time, in an order published Aug. 21, 2012, that a Mexican fast food chain need only provide its workers with breaks, not ensure that the employees actually take the breaks. [Rogelio Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. B216004, --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2012 WL 3579567 (Cal.App. 2 Dist.), 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 10,126]

In so deciding, the 2d District explicitly referred to Brinker, stating that Brinker has conclusively resolved this issue, and noted:
Our Supreme Court determined that “[a]n employer's duty with respect to meal breaks under both section 512, subdivision (a) and Wage Order No. 5 is an obligation to provide a meal period to its employees. The employer satisfies this obligation if it relieves its employees of all duty, relinquishes control over their activities and permits them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30–minute break, and does not impede or discourage them from doing so. [¶] On the other hand, the employer is not obligated to police meal breaks and ensure no work thereafter is performed.
The "tip" for employers is to make sure that their policies correctly dictate that employees are required to take their meal and rest breaks and "relieve" them of all employment duties during such breaks.  However, as noted, the employer is not required to "police" such break taking.