On May 23, 2022, in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., P.3d (2022), the California Supreme Court issued an important wage-and-hour decision.  In Naranjo, the Court held that meal break premiums that an employer pays to an employee for missed, late, or short meal breaks constitute wages.  Consequently, an employer must report those premium payments on an employee’s wage statement pursuant to Labor Code section 226 and must promptly pay any owed premiums when an employee terminates employment or face waiting time penalties under Labor Code section 203.  Naranjo also concluded that the California Constitution’s default prejudgment interest rate of seven percent applies to calculating the prejudgment interest on claims for meal and rest break premiums.

Continue Reading California Supreme Court Holds Meal Period Premiums Are “Wages” and May Trigger Wage Statement and Waiting Time Penalties

On July 15, 2021, the California Supreme Court issued a decision in Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC which was long-awaited but was ultimately highly disappointing to employers.

Continue Reading California Supreme Court Announces New Standard That Meal and Rest Period Premiums Must Be Paid at Same “Regular Rate of Pay” Used to Calculate Overtime Payments

After a decade of ups and downs on the question of federal preemption, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (“FMSCA”) decision to preempt California’s meal and rest break rules.  The long-awaited decision in IBT v. FMCSA upholds the FMSCA’s December 2018 determination that drivers, who are involved in interstate commerce and subject to federal hours-of-service regulations, are exempt from California’s stringent meal and rest break rules because they are “incompatible” with federal regulations.  “The FMCSA reached this conclusion because California required more breaks, more often and with less flexibility as to timing,” the Court’s three-judge panel said in its January 15 opinion.
Continue Reading The Ninth Circuit Puts the Brakes on Truckers’ California Meal and Rest Break Claims

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 ability of hospitals to use meal period waivers was called into question by a 2015 Court of Appeal decision in Gerard v. Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center (Gerard I), which held that the provision in Wage Order 5 allowing waivers even when employees work over 12 hours was invalid.  Following two more years of litigation, we can now inform you that the three-member panel that reached the 2015 decision in Gerard I, reversed itself on March 1, 2017 in Gerard II.  In its new opinion, the Court of Appeal adopted Sheppard Mullin’s argument and confirmed that the special meal period rules for health care employees in Wage Order 5 are, in fact, valid.
Continue Reading California Court of Appeal Affirms Validity of Hospital Meal Period Waivers