Employment Law Blog

Filter:  Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court

Penalties in California Wage & Hour Suits

California Labor Code § 510 requires employers to pay overtime compensation for hours worked over eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. An employer may avoid paying overtime for hours worked over eight per day by adopting a valid Alternative Workweek Schedule (“AWS”). The procedures for adopting a valid AWS are set forth in Labor Code § 511 and the relevant Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order No. 16 (California Code of Regulations, title 8, § 11160, subd. 3(B), 3(C)). Among other things, the law requires an employer to hold a secret ballot election regarding the AWS amongst its employees and to file the results of the election with the State. Prior to the election, the employer must issue a written notification to the affected employees, explaining the election process and the effects of the AWS on the employees’ work schedule and compensation.

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Certification and Penalties for a Wage & Hour Class Action in California

Labor Code sections 226.7 and 512 in conjunction with Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order No. 5 (California Code of Regulations, tit. 8, sec. 11050) require Defendants to authorize and permit meal and rest breaks to their employees.  California law prohibits employers from employing an employee for more than five hours without a meal period of at least 30 minutes.  “[A]n employer’s obligation is to provide an off duty meal period: an uninterrupted 30–minute period during which the employee is relieved of all duty.”  Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Super. Ct. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, 1035.  In order for an employee to be relieved of all duty, the employee must be free to leave the workplace premises.  Id. at 1036.  An employer cannot “impede or discourage [employees] from [taking breaks].”  Id. at 1040.

Section 226.7 and IWC Wage Order No. 5 also require employers to authorize and permit employees to take 10-minute rest breaks for each four hours of work, or major fraction thereof, and to pay employees their full wages during their rest breaks.  A “major fraction of four hours” means greater than two hours.  Brinker, supra, 53 Cal.4th at 1029.  Unless the employee is relieved of all duty during the 30-minute meal break and 10-minute rest break, the employee is considered “on duty” and the meal or rest break is counted as time worked under the applicable wage orders.

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Overtime, Wage Violations, and Employer Obligations Regarding Disabilities

California Labor Code section 510 requires employers to pay overtime compensation for hours worked over 8 per day and 40 per week. An employer may avoid paying overtime for hours worked over 8 per day by adopting a valid Alternative Workweek Schedule. The procedures for adopting a valid AWS are set forth in Labor Code § 511 and the relevant Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order No. 4 at California Code of Regulations, title 8, § 11040, subd. 3(B). Among other things, the law requires an employer to hold a secret ballot election regarding the AWS amongst its employees and to file the results of the election with the State.

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Preemptions: State vs. Federal Labor Law

Pursuant to the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, the laws of the United States “shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” (U.S. Const., Art. VI.) Thus, state law that conflicts with federal law is “without effect” and preempted. Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc. (1992) 505 U.S. 504, 516. Federal law can preempt state law either by express provision, by implication, or by a conflict between federal and state law. New York State Conference of Blue Cross & Blue Shield Plans v. Travelers Insurance Company (1995) 514 U.S. 645, 654 (“Travelers”). However, where the possibility of preemption arises from an express statutory provision, there is no need to consider any possible implied preemptive effect, since, “Congress’ enactment of a provision defining the preemptive reach of a statute implies that matters beyond that reach are not preempted.” Cipollone, supra, 505 U.S. at 517.

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The Definition of “On-Duty” and “Off-Duty” Periods

Employees must be relieved of all duty during their meal and rest breaks. Brinker, 53 Cal.4th at 1035–1036; Faulkinbury v. Boyd & Associates (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 220, 236. During breaks, an employee “must be free to attend to any personal business he or she may choose.” Brinker, 53 Cal.4th at 1036. An employee is working and “on duty” when he is “subject to the control of an employer,” “including all the time the employee is suffered or permitted to work, whether or not required to do so.” Wage Order No. 9 § 2(H). Time spent by an employee waiting on standby for the benefit of the employer is considered to be on duty. Madera Police Officers Assn. v. City of Madera (1984) 36 Cal.3d 403.

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Meal and Rest Breaks for “On Call” Health Care Employees

As the California Supreme Court has noted, an employer meets the requirements of the applicable Wage Order’s meal period requirement if the employee (1) has at least 30 minutes uninterrupted, (2) is free to leave the premises, and (3) is relieved of all duty for the entire period. Id. at 1036.

However, in the health care industry, as discussed in a Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) Opinion Letter approved by the Brinker Court, an employer may require an employee to remain on its premises, “so long as the worker is relieved of all duties during the meal period.” Dept. Industrial Relations, DLSE Opinion Letter No. 1996.07.12 (July 12, 1996) p. 1 (“1996 Opinion Letter”). In that Opinion Letter, the DLSE discussed whether an employee that is required to carry a pager during a purported meal period must be compensated. The DLSE determined that: “[s]o long as the employee who is simply required to wear the pager is not called upon during the meal period to respond, there is no requirement that the meal period be paid for. On the other hand, if the employee responds, as required to a pager call during the meal period, the whole of the meal period must be compensated.”

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Class Rights of Taxi Drivers in Oakland, California

Oakland City Ordinance 5.64.040(d)(1)) unequivocally states that: “Fleet managers shall provide to drivers receipts for all fees collected from said drivers.”

Oakland Municipal Code 5.64.040(C) states:
Fleet management permittees are required to maintain for a period of not less than one year all records pertaining to the fleet manager’s operation and management, including but not limited to all waybills completed by drivers, all dispatch logs, all vehicle inspection records, driver training records, passenger complaints, citation records, leasing records, and insurance records. Fleet managers shall make available for inspection, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., all such records. Fleet managers shall take reasonable efforts to ensure the completeness and accuracy of all records. Any records which are determined to be inadequate, inaccurate, or any request which is not complied with may result in the suspension or revocation of the fleet management permit pursuant to Section 5.64.080.

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Determining Employment Status in California

“The California Supreme Court has developed a multi-factor test for determining employment status.” Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp. (9th Cir. 2011) 667 F.3d 1318, 1324, quoting S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Dept. of Indust. Rel. (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341 (“Borello”).  “[U]nder California law, once a plaintiff comes forward with evidence that he provided services for an employer, the employee has established a prima facie case that the relationship was one of employer/employee.” Narayan v. EGL, Inc. (9th Cir. 2010) 616 F.3d 895, 900, citing Robinson v. George, (1940) 16 Cal.2d 238, 243-244. “Once the employee establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer, which may prove, if it can, that the presumed employee was an independent contractor.” Id. (citation omitted).
Under California law, primary test of an employment relationship is whether “the person to whom service is rendered has the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired….” Borello, supra, at 350. While the right to control work details is the most important factor, there are also “’secondary’ indicia of the nature of a service arrangement.” Id. These secondary factors, principally derived from the Rest.2d Agency, include

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