Meal and Rest Breaks in California

Under California law, which is more generous to employees than federal law, employees are entitled to specific meal and rest breaks. Indeed, California is one of the few states that require employers to give their workers both meal and rest breaks. In one of our recent landmark cases, heard by the Supreme Court of California, it was affirmed that “on-duty” rest breaks are in violation of California wage and hour laws (more on this precedent-setting decision here).

Meal Breaks in California

Updates to “Joint Employer” Legislation?

Generally speaking, joint employment, or co-employment, is the sharing of control and supervision of an employee’s activity among two or more business entities. A benefit of the increasingly popular employment practice is the ease with which joint employers are often able to hire experts in niche industries, individuals with specialist skills, and/or even replace their regular workforce. Currently, however, no single legal definition of joint employment exists and Congress is out to change that.

One Work Week is Six Days and a Day of Rest

California’s “Day of Rest” statute continues to plague employers, but a recent case brings with it some good news. Under California Labor Code section 550-558.1, an employer is prohibited “from ‘caus[ing] his employees to work more than six days in seven” unless “the total hours of employment do not exceed 30 hours in any week.”[1]

According to a California Supreme Court ruling that just came down the pipe, employees must average no less than one day of rest for every seven over the course of a calendar month, giving even more work-scheduling flexibility to employers.

An Amendment to Increasing Protection for the Transgender Population

Employers, beware: New regulations expand existing transgender protections under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA protects individuals who identify as transgender and provides protections on the basis of both gender identity and gender expression — regardless of the person’s assigned sex at birth. California law also specifically protects an employee’s right to appear or dress consistently with his/her gender identity or gender expression.

The amendments to FEHA became effective July 1, 2017 and specifically address transitioning, dress standard, name preference, identity, and documentation as they relate to the workplace and housing.[1]

Expanded Protections to Victims of Sexual Assault

Prior to AB 2337, a law that expands the rights of certain employees, victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking were protected if:

  • their employers retaliated against them,
  • they took time off,
  • they requested reimbursement for lost wages and work benefits, or
  • sought equitable relief from the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement as it related to their abuse, assault, or stalking.[1]

Things are changing, however, and, with the approval of AB 2337, victims now receive more extensive protection and information.

Bonuses, Overtime Pay, and Class Actions

Overtime pay, or the alleged lack thereof, is an issue we regularly see pop up in the California courts. While California employers generally recognize that non-exempt employees (e.g. many hourly employees) who work overtime must receive overtime premiums on their base pay, not all are aware that these premiums may also be required on other, “supplemental” aspects of compensation to nonexempt employees. A common example? Bonuses.

PAGA Claims: Arbitration Not Allowed

The California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for alleged Labor Code violations. In other words, PAGA gives a private citizen the right to pursue fines that would normally only be available to the State of California, thereby allowing a private citizen to act as an “attorney general”. Defending these claims can be time consuming and costly for employers, and a California appellate court recently made things even more challenging for business owners across the state when it affirmed that arbitration is not permitted for PAGA claims. Indeed, arbitration clauses are undergoing a change up in employment agreements across the state, read more here.

Tracking Employees Offline

Thanks to technology, employers are essentially now able to track an employee’s every move. Whether it be on the internet, on sales routes, or in a production center, technological advancements have made it easy to monitor an employee’s movements in ways that could only be imagined a couple of decades ago. As we have discussed in the past, there are benefits and risks to tracking an employee through GPS software.

Benefits of Employee Monitoring