Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
In a blow to UPS, and other employers in California, a California federal court recently ruled that employers are liable for up to two hours of additional pay when an employee misses both a meal and rest break. California law provides for a one hour premium of regular pay for each day that a non-exempt employee is not provided meal or rest breaks as required by the various California Wage Orders. (California Labor Code sec. 226.7).
Employers have argued that under California law, an employer is only obligated to pay a one hour premium for missed meal and lunch breaks per day, whether there was one or multiple violations in the same day. In the first direct ruling on this issue, the court in Marlo v. United Parcel Service, Case No. CV 03-04336 DDP, held that the employee may recover up to two additional hours of pay on a single work day for meal period and rest break violations: one if any meal period violations occur in a work day and one if any rest break violations occur in a work day. However, if more than one rest period violation occurs in a single work day but no meal period violations occur, the employee may only recover one additional hour of pay for all of the rest period violations combined; likewise, if more than one meal period violation occurs in a single work day but no rest period violations occur on that day, the employee may only recover one additional hour of pay for all of the meal period violations combined.
While the ruling will likely be appealed, employers should evaluate their pay practices with respect to missed meal and rest periods to comply with the ruling until further authority is established. On a positive note, the Court agreed with other recent rulings and held that an employer's obligation with respect to meal breaks is to make a meal period available to employees, but places them under no further obligations to ensure that a meal break is taken. This issue is currently pending a decision by the California Supreme Court in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum).
This blog entry was authored by Gregory G. Iskander.