Associated Press reports at Fox News The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch breaks in a case that affects thousands of businesses and millions of workers.
The unanimous opinion came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times.
The case was initially filed nine years ago against Dallas-based Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of Californialabor law.
But the high court sided with businesses when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and that those decisions should be left to workers. The decision provided clarity that businesses had sought regarding the law.
The opinion written by Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar explained that state law does not compel an employer to ensure employees cease all work during meal periods. It stated that while employers are required to free workers of job duties for a 30-minute meal break, the employee is at liberty to use the time as they choose even if it’s to work, she wrote.
“The employer is not obligated to police meal breaks and ensure no work thereafter is performed,” Werdegar wrote.
Read more: Fox News