Yash Law Group Helped Change Meal Break Law
Two major California court cases that were decided in 2022 changed meal break law: Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services, Inc., 13 Cal. 5th 93 (Cal. 2022), and Betancourt v. OS Restaurant Services, LLC, et al., 83 Cal. App. 5th 132 (Cal. Ct. App. 2022). Yash Law Group was proud to serve as counsel in the Betancourt case. Both Naranjo and Betancourt expanded meal and rest breaks rights and recovery in California. The impact of the decisions is discussed in this post.Skilled Labor Lawyer Protecting Employee Lunch Break and Rest Period Rights
Under federal law, employees are not guaranteed meal and rest breaks. An employer who does not provide its employees 30-minute breaks does not violate the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, California law is different. Under California law, employers must provide hourly employees with 30-minute, duty-free meal periods. They must also provide employees with 10-minute rest breaks. An employer who fails to provide meal periods to an employee violates the California Labor Code and must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee's regular rate, referred to as a "meal period premium." Similarly, an employer who fails to provide rest periods to an employee violates the California Labor Code and must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee's regular rate, referred to as a "rest period premium." An employee can recover one meal period premium and one rest period premium per workday.
Before Naranjo, meal and rest period premiums were not considered wages. This was an unfavorable interpretation for employees. In Naranjo, the California Supreme Court concluded that the premiums were, in fact, wages. This marked an important change for employees working all over California. Employees can now recover greater penalties as a result of an employer's nonpayment of premiums.
For example, California Labor Code section 203 authorizes daily penalties when an employer fails to pay an employee all wages upon the employment ending. With the new protections under Naranjo, employees could recover not just the premium pay for the meal and rest period violations but also the additional daily penalties due at the time of separation of employment under Labor Code section 203, which were not available before Naranjo. Penalties under California Labor Code section 203 can total up to an employee's daily way for up to 30 days.
Similarly, an employee's pay stub must itemize numerous items, including the gross wages, net wages, hours worked, and the employer's name and address. Meal and rest period premiums must also be shown and listed in employees' pay stubs, under California Labor Code section 226. Failure to itemize these premium (or wage) payments could lead to a penalty against the employer, which was also unavailable before Naranjo. Penalties under California Labor Code section 226 can be up to $4,000.
An experienced labor attorney can help evaluate what wages and penalties are due to you under the various California laws, including the California Labor Code and the Wage Orders.Fullerton Employment Law Group Obtains Justice for Meal Break Violations
California courts and legislature have long established that authorizing an award of attorneys' fees plays an important role in employees bringing wage claims and other claims involving important public policies. Without an award of attorneys' fees, private lawsuits and claims may sometimes be impractical or infeasible. The landmark Betancourt decision, which can be found here, expanded employees' rights to recover attorneys' fees for meal and rest break claims. Yashdeep "Jesse" Singh, Esq. and Yash Law Group served as co-counsel in the trial court and on appeal for the plaintiff in Betancourt, which was recognized as a major victory for employees throughout California. Employee attorney Yashdeep "Jesse" Singh uses his unique skills and knowledge about California labor laws to help employees in courts and arbitration to recover the wages and premiums they are due from employees and have their attorney's fees and costs covered.
Shortly after Naranjo was published, the California Court of Appeal decided and published Betancourt. Betancourt changed California law by deciding that attorney's fees were also available based on an employer's meal and rest period violations and the accompanying penalties. For example, if an hourly employee who works at a coffee shop in Anaheim, California is not provided meal and rest breaks each shift, the employee can, of course, recover one additional hour of pay for each meal and rest period not provided. She can now also recover penalties under Naranjo that were not previously available. She can also recover the attorney's fees she incurred in pursuing her claims in California Superior Court under Betancourt.
Yash Law Group is dedicated to protecting and pursuing the rights of employees in California. If you are a victim of wage abuse, harassment, or retaliation at work, please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.