Decision in Brinker v. Superior Court: Employers May Not Interfere with Workers’ Right to Meal BreaksApril 12, 2012
On April 12, 2012, the California Supreme Court issued its much-awaited decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, clarifying an employer’s obligations to provide hourly—or non-exempt—workers meal and rest periods.
On the central question of what it means to provide meal periods, the Brinker decision concluded that “an employer’s obligation is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purpose he or she desires, but the employer need not ensure that no work is done.” The Court reasoned that requiring an employer to police its workers’ breaks would contradict the principle that the employer relinquishes all control during breaks. The Court clarified further than an employer cannot impede breaks by pressuring workers against taking breaks, create incentives to forego breaks, or encourage skipping breaks. In doing so, the Court reaffirmed the long-standing principle that California’s workers are “entitled to uninterrupted half-hour [meal] periods in which they are relieved of any duty or employer control and are free to come and go as they please.”
Join the legal community, judges, labor and others at our rally to support adequate court funding for the justice system. On Wednesday, January 18th at noon, the rally takes place in downtown Los Angeles on Grand Avenue, in front of the Disney Concert Hall. Speakers will include Governor Gray Davis, Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno (ret.) and Senator Joe Dunn (ret.). A statement from Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Assembly member Michael Feuer will be presented.
Watch a video report from The Recorder on the newly launched Workers’ Rights Disability Law Clinic, at the Ed Roberts Clinic in Berkeley. The new Clinic is a project of the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and is now providing a full array of free counseling, advice, support, referral and employment-related legal services to workers and job seekers with disabilities every Tuesday night.
On Wednesday, November 16, 2011, the California Supreme Court agreed to review a lower-court opinion in a civil rights case that will have a broad impact on the rights of immigrant workers in California.
In its Petition for Review to the California Supreme Court, the LAS–ELC argued that the lower court had ignored well-established laws ensuring that all workers are fully protected by California’s labor and employment laws but also U.S. Supreme Court precedent preventing employers from evading responsibility for violating their workers’ rights simply because they may find evidence of unrelated employee wrongdoing. All seven California Supreme Court justices voted in favor of reviewing the case.Read more
We are very pleased to announce that Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center Senior Staff Attorney Sharon Terman is the recipient of this year’s Stanford Law School Miles L. Rubin Public Interest Award. The Award “recognizes an alumnus/a whose outstanding work has advanced justice and social change in the lives of vulnerable populations.”
Sharon’s entire career has been focused on advancing social justice. She worked at an array of public interest organizations as a law student; she accepted a Skadden Fellowship in 2005 to work in the LAS–ELC Gender Equity Program; and remained as a Staff Attorney where she now directs the LAS–ELC Work and Family Project.
Worker labored over 12 hour days for $2 an hour
A former solo laundromat attendant in Oakland is suing her employer, claiming gross violations of minimum wage and overtime laws. The plaintiff claims that she frequently worked over 12 hours a day for six and sometimes seven days in a row for as little as $2 an hour. “If proven, this would fall under the very definition of ‘wage theft’,” said Charlotte Noss, Skadden Fellow at The Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center. “We would have an unscrupulous employer taking advantage of a hard working employee and paying her next to nothing—with no regard to state or federal labor laws whatsoever.”Read more
This week, Governor Brown signed several important bills that protect the rights of low-wage workers, including:
- SB 299—Protecting Health Care Coverage for Pregnant Women and New Mothers
- AB 1236—Prohibiting the Mandated Use of the E-Verify System by Private Employers in California
- AB 1403—Recovering Costs of Court Interpreters for Indigent Persons
- AB 22—Curtailing Use of Job Applicant Credit Checks
- SB 459—Increasing Penalties for Willful Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors
The LAS–ELC strongly supported these bills.Read more
Fernando Flores of LAS–ELC’s Wage and Hour Enforcement Litigation Program (WageHELP) discusses legally mandated meal and rest breaks on KPCC’s AirTalk. The conversation comes as the California Supreme Court weighs the same issues in Brinker Restaurant Corp. et al. v. Superior Court of San Diego County. Listen to the episodeRead more
The Worker’ Rights Disability Law Clinic will host a free public workshop in Spanish:
Reasonable Accommodation and the Interactive Process
Tuesday, November 22 at 7pm
Ed Roberts Campus adjacent to the Asby BART Station
Osher Room (Ground Floor)
3075 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703
For more information, please call 415-864-8848 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are requesting communication services, please notify us 5 days in advance.
The Workers’ Rights Disability Law Clinic is sponsored by the Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.Read more
The Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center is very pleased to announce that Professor Pam Karlan, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional law experts, will serve as Special Counsel to the organization.