In Alfredo Sanchez v. Miguel Martinez, the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, held that although an employee who is not authorized and permitted to take a paid 10-minute rest break in compliance with California law may assert a claim for either unpaid wages or seek one additional hour of pay (i.e., a rest break premium) under Labor Code Section 226.7, the employee cannot recover damages under both theories.  All California employers will find this case instructive, as it may also provide a basis to argue against similar “double recovery” and/or “stacking” of penalties predicated on other Labor Code violations.

Continue Reading Employees Cannot Obtain “Double Recovery” of Unpaid Wages and Premiums for Non-Compliant Rest Breaks

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the central role local and long haul trucking companies and drivers play in the overall U.S. economy and specifically our public health infrastructure.  Now, as states and businesses around the country gradually reopen and truck deliveries begin to ramp up, employers in the commercial trucking industry should be aware of recent changes to Hours of Service regulations as well as COVID-19-related guidance on keeping employees and the general public healthy and safe.  By updating their policies and procedures and enacting responsible safety measures, motor carriers will be in the best position to weather the storm of this pandemic and avoid the risks associated with employment litigation and compliance pitfalls.
Continue Reading Overview of Recent Updates for Employers in the Commercial Trucking Industry

Signaling another positive development for interstate motor carriers operating in California, the United States District Court for the Central District of California (the “Central District”) recently dismissed a truck driver’s claims that motor carrier U.S. Xpress failed to provide a class of drivers with legally required meal and rest periods compliant with California law. See, Ayala v. U.S. Express Enters., Inc. et al. Case No. 5:16-cv-00137-GW-(KKx) (Order Granting Partial Summary Judgment). The Court, in granting U.S. Xpress’s motion for partial summary judgment, stated that it did not possess the authority to review the merits of the case since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) determined, in December 2018, that Federal law preempts California state law. The Central District applied the FMCSA’s order retroactively to the Ayala case, filed in 2016, stating that it was bound by the FMCSA order and would apply the order in similar cases unless and until the order was invalidated by the Ninth Circuit.
Continue Reading California’s Meal and Rest Break Rules for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Remain Preempted by Federal Law . . . For Now

On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court issued a critical decision in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., 2016 D.J. 12608 (2016), relating to California’s rest period obligations.  The California Supreme Court declared that state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods.  It stated that employers must (1) relieve their employees of all duties during rest periods and (2) relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.  However, the decision did not end there.  The California Supreme Court examined a number of related considerations, including the practical limitations created by a ten-minute rest period, policies that place restrictions on employees during rest periods, the circumstances under which premium payments may be due for missed rest periods, and the possibility of rescheduling or restarting rest periods when they cannot be provided or are interrupted.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds That Rest Periods Must Be Free From Duties And Employer Control

Assembly Bill 1513, will significantly change the requirements governing the payment of piece-rate compensation in California beginning January 1, 2016.  AB 1513 creates Labor Code section 226.2 which sets forth requirements for the payment of a separate hourly wage for rest and recovery periods and for “other nonproductive time” worked by piece-rate employees.  AB 1513 defines “other nonproductive time” as “time under the employer’s control, exclusive of rest and recovery periods, that is not directly related to the activity being compensated on a piece-rate basis.”
Continue Reading Changes to California’s Piece-Rate Compensation Requirements

UPDATE: California Supreme Court grants review in Augustus v. ABM Security

On April 29, 2015, the California Supreme Court granted review of Augustus.  Accordingly, the published decision is no longer citable and the Supreme Court will decide whether an employer must relieve employees of all duty during paid rest breaks.  We will keep you posted as the case progresses.

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In 2012, the California Supreme Court issued its highly-anticipated opinion in Brinker Restaurant Corporation, et al. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004, which provided substantial clarity to California employers regarding the obligation to provide meal and rest breaks. While the Brinker court held that employers need only make such breaks “available” to employees, it left a number of questions unanswered. One open issue was whether employees must be “relieved of all duty” during paid rest breaks. On January 29, 2015, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, published a landmark decision in Augustus v. ABM Security Services holding that employees are not “working” while on-call during rest breaks.


Continue Reading Employers Are Not Required to Relieve Employees of All Duty During Rest Breaks