Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Brinker

Brinker Restaurant Corp. v Superior Court (Hohnbum) No. S166350 (California April 12, 2012).

The long-awaited Supreme Court ruling in Brinker was issued on April 12, 2012. It is welcome news for California employers, especially those subjected to wage and hour litigation seeking monetary damages for alleged denial of meal and rest breaks. The most significant general holding of Brinker is that employers need not ensure that their employees take meal and rest periods which are required by California law. Employers need only ensure that workers are provided the meal and rest period. Specifically, the court held “an employer must relieve the employee of all duty for the designated period but need not ensure that the employee does no work.”

Based on the foregoing, employers should continue the practice of providing meal and rest breaks as required by law, posting the company policy related to meal and rest breaks in a visible location at the workplace and including provisions for meals and rest breaks in the Employee Handbook. However, employers no longer need to police employees to ensure meal and rest breaks are taken.

Because Brinker came before the Supreme Court as a class certification case, there are many issues which were not determined or which may arise from this decision. Please call us if you have questions or need further information related to this decision and how it may impact your business.

– Provided by Rissa A. Stuart

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