Finally, in a California Supreme Court ruling, California employers get a break. This ruling clarifies meal and break requirements in in the restaurant industry.
The ruling in the class action lawsuit against Brinker Restaurant Corp. states that they must make meal and break periods available during certain types of shifts and keep records that these times are available but they do not need to ensure that the workers actually take the mandated break.
In this ruling the opinion states , the court declared the law to be precisely what employees and employers have always thought: it is the employee’s choice to take a meal break, not something forced on employees by the government.
In an article in Restaurant News by Lisa Jennings on April 12, 2012 she wrote
Steve Hirschfeld, founder and chief executive of the San Francisco-based labor and employment attorney network Employment Law Alliance, agreed, adding, What this ruling says, in essence, is that employers don’t have to babysit employees.
As long as they make available meal and rest periods and encourage their usage, they are not liable for claims brought by employees that they did not receive them, Hirschfeld said. Employers are not going to be in a situation where they have to act like ˜big brother and constantly monitor employees.
The ruling allows for prosecution for restaurants who do not provide the opportunity for meals and breaks for their employees.
Taco Bell and KFC, both Yum Brands International Inc. chains have pending cases in front of the California Supreme Court.
Brinker Restaurant Corp. et al v. The Superior Court for the State of California for the County of San Diego.