Published on:

California High Court holds Employers Do Not Have to Babysit Employees for Breaks

The California Supreme Court has held that while an employer is required to make it possible for an employee to take scheduled breaks, it is not liable if the employee chooses to work through those breaks.

Employees at Dallas-based Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and other eateries, filed suit when they missed their breaks to work.

In a unanimous vote, The California Supreme Court held that California Labor laws do not order an employer to ensure employees cease all work during meal periods. Instead, an employee is at liberty to use the time as they choose.

Under the California Labor Code an employer is required to provide an uninterrupted, 30-minute, duty-free break in which an employee can come and go as he or she pleases. This break must be scheduled no later than five hours into an employee’s shift. However, if an employee works more than one five hour shift, an employer is not required to provide an additional 30-minute break.

An employer must also provide an employee who works a 31/2 hour to 6 hour shift with a 10-minute rest break, and a second 10-minute break if the employee works a 6 to 10 hour shift.

The court also said that the 30- minute break must be scheduled no later than 5 hours into an employee’s shift. An employer is not required to give a worker a second 30-minute break if his or her’s employee works more than 10 hours.

Previously the California high court had held that employees who are denied their rest and meal breaks face greater risk of work-related accidents – especially low-wage workers who engage in manual labor. In 2001, California became one of only a few states that impose a monetary penalty for employers who violate these laws, requiring employers to pay one hour of wages for a missed half-hour meal break.

In Nevada employers must provide employees a meal break of at least 30 minutes when the employee works 8 hours. Employers must also provide employees a 10 minute break for each 4 hours worked. Nev. Rev. Stat. 608.019. There is no federal law requiring employers to provide such breaks.

The Las Vegas law office of Lagomarsino Law did not represent anyone involved in the above-referenced case. The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you would like to be represented by a Nevada attorney, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.