Another California Court Says Meal Breaks Must Be Provided, Not Ensured
As California employers continue to await the California Supreme Court's decision in Brinker regarding the extent of an employer's obligation to "provide" mealbreaks to employees, another court has decided the issue favorably for employers. In Flores v. Lamps Plus, Inc., a California court of appeal held that class certification was properly denied in a case alleging meal and rest break violations on behalf of a putative class of some 2,600 employees across the state. Citing to numerous federal cases, the court held that California law does not require employers to ensure meal breaks are taken, but rather requires employers to provide employees the opportunity to take them. Based on this standard, the court held that individual issues predominated as to why any particular employee may have missed meal and/or rest breaks. As such, class treatment was inappropriate. The court similarly held that class treatment was inappropriate for the plaintiffs' other claims, including failure to provide accurate wage statements, off the clock work, and failure to timely pay wages on termination of employment.
The court also held that a stay of the proceedings (including ruling on class certification) was properly denied, nothwithstanding the pendency of the Brinker decision before the California Supreme Court. The Lamps Plus case is another positive case for employers as we continue to await a definitive determination on meal break requirements from the state's high court.