California Supreme Court to clarify on-call rest break law

Under California law, workers are entitled to a rest break of 10 minutes for every four hours worked.

Whether employers can require employees to have cell phones or radios while on break will be the focus of an upcoming Supreme Court case.

California requires employers to allow employees to take rest breaks. Under state law, an employee cannot work more than five hours without having an unpaid, off-duty meal break of at least 30 minutes. Employees who are nonexempt and work at least 3.5 hours in a day must have a rest break of 10 minutes for every four hours worked.

Under state law, employers who fail to provide a break in accordance with the law owe employees one additional hour of pay as wage. Employees can recover that amount up to three years after the failure to provide such a break.

California Supreme Court to decide on-call break issue

While the law on rest and meal breaks for employees is well established, gray areas in the law remain. For example, if a worker is on call during a rest break, is that considered a true break?

The California Supreme Court in 2012 held that the law requires employers to relieve employees of “all duty” while on a meal break. In January, however, the California Court of Appeals ruled that under the Labor Code, employees who were on call during a rest break were not “performing work” as defined in the relevant state statute. The appeals court wrote that although the workers were on call, “they were otherwise permitted to engage and did engage in various nonwork activities.”

On April 29, the California Supreme Court agreed to review the case. At issue will be whether, similar to its 2012 ruling, rest breaks must be free of “all duty,” including being on call.

Employees who are not receiving rest breaks

While it remains to be seen what the Supreme Court will decide in the case, there are clear-cut circumstances under which employees can recover back wages if not provided adequate breaks under California law. Answering email or the phone during breaks, for example, is work activity that is not allowed under state law. The employee can choose not to take such breaks, but they must be provided for if the employee needs them.

If you are a nonexempt employee who is not receiving rest breaks as required under California law, you may be entitled to monetary damages. At The Law Offices of Daniel Feder, our firm is experienced representing workers who have experienced labor violations under California law. Contact our office to discuss your situation and legal options.

Keywords: break law,California Supreme Court,Supreme Court.

24/7 availability
415-391-9476

Contact us for a
Free Case Review

News

Chico's FAS Inc., a Florida women's clothing chain, has become the latest retailer sued in San Francisco for

San Francisco's Gap Inc. will give thousands of California store workers nearly $1.8 million worth of clothing vouchers as compensation.

Law360, New York (August 29, 2012, 2:46 PM ET) -- A California federal judge on Tuesday signed off on a $4 million settlement

Blog

How can your employer accommodate you during your pregnancy?

You have the right to have children and a career in California. The government makes sure that employers do not treat you differently if you are pregnant. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act gives you certain...

Your rights in a sexual harassment case

Sexual harassment is in the news every day. Unfortunately for many workers in the San Francisco area, it is something they face on the job. The law protects you. You do not have to tolerate behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened. Your employer must...

Handling age discrimination in the tech industry

Can you have an age discrimination case if you are not yet a senior citizen? While you may not consider yourself to be on the older side of the workforce, federal employee protection against age discrimination starts at age 40. Studies show that this problem is...

Whistleblowers may be entitled to large monetary awards

Bay Area employees may have found themselves in a situation in the workplace that warrants speaking out about problems. Sometimes called whistleblowers, employees who point out flaws in a company's policies or procedures may be subject to unfair treatment. Recently, a...

Does your employer’s dress code policy discriminate against you?

When you think about discrimination in the workplace, you probably think about denial of a promotion, a good assignment or a better schedule based on your race, religion, gender or some other protected factor. However, there are hidden sources of discrimination that...

CELA - California Employment Lawyers Association
The Bar Association of San Francisco - BASF Member 2013
American Association for Justice
NELA National Employment Lawyers Association
TLPJ Trial Lawyers for Public Justice
The American Trial Lawyers Association