After waging a 10-year legal battle, Brinker Restaurant Corp., the parent company for Chili’s and Maggiano’s restaurant chains, has settled its wage and hour class action lawsuit. On August 6, 2014, the parties reached a preliminary agreement to resolve all 120,000 class members’ claims in exchange for a maximum settlement payment of $56.5 million. The settlement terms remain subject to court approval.
This highly publicized case, which wound its way up to the California Supreme Court two years ago, affects all California employers. In its much-anticipated 2012 ruling, the high court held businesses must provide uninterrupted 30-minute meal breaks to their workers but are not obligated to ensure that no work is done during any such break. The Court cautioned that employers must not “impede or discourage” employees from taking that uninterrupted time off.
The Court also clarified California’s workplace rest period laws, ruling that employers must provide their hourly employees with one paid 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked or every “major fraction thereof.”
Brinker’s $56 million settlement serves as an important reminder for management to revisit meal and rest break policies. Among other things, workplace policy should clearly specify:
Of course, employers must always pay employees for all time worked including any meal breaks skipped at a worker’s option.
We’ve covered earlier rulings in past blogs, “Brinkers New Rules for Meal and Rest breaks”, “Brinker: Employees May Skip Breaks”, “Brinker: Clocking In on Employee Timekeeping”, “Brinker Decision and Rest Periods” and “Brinker: California’s Meal Break Breakthrough“. For information concerning meal and rest periods and related workplace practices, as well as model employee policies and forms, contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.Back to Blog
If you are facing possible litigation or have an employee issue on which you need immediate guidance, call us to speak to one of our attorneys, or submit your question using our contact form.