California Court of Appeal Clarifies State Meal and Rest Period Requirements in Brinker Restaurant Corporation
By Raymond W. Bertrand and Maureen E. O'Neill
In Brinker Restaurant Corporation, the Fourth Appellate District provided long-awaited guidance on several issues of significant interest to Californias employers and employment law community. Addressing Californias rules for providing meal and rest periods, as well as the standards for class certification of such claims, the Brinker court rejected every one of plaintiffs arguments. The court held that: (1) employers must only make available meal periods for employees, and need not ensure that meal periods actually are taken; (2) employers are not required to provide meal periods for every five consecutive hours an employee works; (3) employers must permit rest breaks every four hours or major fraction thereof, and need not, where impracticable, provide rest breaks in the middle of the work period or before the first meal period; and (4) the plaintiffs claims for meal and rest period violations, and their claims that employees worked off-the-clock during meal periods, involved predominately individual issues and therefore were not amenable to class treatment.