Meal & Rest Breaks: Two Premium Payments Allowed for Each Meal and Rest Break Missed Per Day

On June 2, 2011, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District held in United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS") v. Allen, 2011 DJDAR 8073 that Labor Code Section 226.7 allows for two premium payments per work day, one for failure to provide a meal break and one for failure to provide a rest break. This is in an important clarifying ruling, because often in wage and hour litigation there is a dispute as to the number of premium payments owed based on the number or type of break periods that the employer failed to provide.

This case is also a reminder to employers that, while we still do not have a ruling in the Brinker matter regarding when meal breaks must be provided, California laws are being interpreted favorably towards the employees when it comes to ensuring that employers comply with the current applicable California laws and Wage Orders in providing meal and rest breaks to its employees.

Labor Code Section 226.7 provides, "(a) No employers shall require an employee to work during any meal or rest period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission ("IWC") . . . (b) If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal or rest period in accordance with an applicable IWC, the employer shall pay the employee on additional hour of pay at the employees regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal or rest period is not provided."

In the case at issue, UPS was sued by 32 employees in a coordinated action seeking compensation for UPS's alleged failure to provide meal and rest breaks. UPS argued that only one premium payment is allowable per work day, regardless of the number or type of breaks periods that were not provided. The employees argued that Labor Code Section 226.7 uses the language "meal or rest period," which means the employees are entitled to a premium payment for a meal period and another premium payment for a missed rest break. The Court agreed with the plaintiff employees' interpretation.

Kring & Chung, LLP has considerable experience defending meal and rest break violation cases. We can provide your company with guidance on how to defend against and avoid these kind of lawsuits by implementing sound employment practices and guidelines.