A case being considered by the California Supreme Court has the potential to affect meal and rest breaks for all nonunion employees. At issue in Brinker v. Superior Court is whether an employer must ensure that hourly employees take breaks.
Currently, California law provides that workers are entitled to a meal break after five hours of work. However, in practice, many workers are unable to take scheduled meal breaks as the result of excessive workloads that workers can’t complete in the scheduled workday.
If you have questions concerning whether you are entitled to meal and rest breaks, and whether you are entitled to compensation for this time worked, it is important to speak to an experienced Atlanta wage and hour attorney.
The case was filed by five Brinker employees on behalf of company workers statewide. An estimated 60,000 hourly workers are included in the class-action lawsuit. Brinker International operates several chain restaurants including Chili’s Grill & Bar. The workers assert that during busy times, they were unable to take their scheduled breaks.
Employee representatives further allege that based on California Labor Code provisions, employers must ensure that workers actually take those breaks. Making sure that employees are allowed breaks affects “vital protections” concerning the health and safety of workers and members of the public served by them. Company representatives counter that employers must only make the breaks “available” and that workers and managers may be flexible about when the employees actually take those breaks. Where workers miss a meal break, they may be entitled to one hour of overtime pay.
Early reports indicate that the justices appeared split on how they will decide this significant wage and hour case.
As Georgia wage and hour attorneys, we will be following this case closely to determine how it may impact workers' access to meal and rest breaks, fair labor practices and compensation. For more information, contact the knowledgeable Georgia overtime attorneys Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP, LLC.