Carlson & Jayakumar Shut Down Manufacturing Employees' Rest Break Lawsuit and Achieve Important Victory for Employers: Court Affirms Legality of Combined Rest Periods

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On February 23, 2015, a Los Angeles Superior Court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by aerospace metal finishing company, EME, Inc., against a class of hourly workers who claimed, among other things, that EME’s practice of combining rest breaks was per se illegal. The court entered judgment for EME on March 5, 2015.

Rather, so long as EME authorized and permitted all employees to take rest periods, “insofar as practicable[,] … in the middle of each work period,” it complied with its obligations to provide rest breaks.

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The lawsuit, Rodriguez v. EME, Inc., Case No. BC518692, alleged that EME, a family-owned company located in Compton, California, violated California wage-and-hour law by providing its hourly employees with a single 20-minute rest break per day, as opposed to two 10-minute rest breaks. They also asserted that the company violated the law by failing to provide employees with paid “walking time” to and from their break area.

EME filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the combined rest break, as provided by EME, complied with the applicable IWC Wage Order and that California law does not require employers to pay employees for the time it takes them to walk from their work stations to their chosen rest break area. The Court agreed.

With respect to the rest break claim, the Court determined that there was no dispute that EME provided its employees with the break time at the required rate of “ten (10) minutes net rest time per four (4) hours or major fraction thereof.” Relying on the California Supreme Court’s holding in Brinker v. Superior Court, the Court also determined that there is no case or statute that requires the rest breaks to be provided separately or in any particular order. Rather, so long as EME authorized and permitted all employees to take rest periods, “insofar as practicable[,] … in the middle of each work period,” it complied with its obligations to provide rest breaks. As argued by EME’s counsel, Keith W. Carlson, the EME work day is “fairly well divided into thirds,” with approximately two hours between the start of work and the 20-minute break, two hours between the 20-minute break and the 30-minute lunch break, and then three hours between the lunch break and the end of the day. Thus, the Court found that EME employees received their breaks in the middle of each “work period,” as that term is commonly understood, and thus complied with the Wage Order. The Court also noted that EME had established several “practical considerations” that provided additional support for the combined break schedule.

Judge John S. Wiley applauded EME’s attorneys for “a wonderful job of advocacy,” and noted that they had “advanced a commonsensical reading of Wage Order No. 5 that … entitle[d] [their client] to summary judgment” and that their performance in this case would only further “burnish [their] glossy reputation.” EME is represented by Keith W. Carlson, Christine de Bretteville, and Jamie Mayorga.

About Carlson & Jayakumar LLP

Carlson & Jayakumar LLP is a full-service law firm offering professional and legal support to businesses and employers in the areas of Employment Counseling and Litigation, Healthcare, and Business Litigation. Located in Newport Beach, CA, Carlson & Jayakumar LLP is motivated to minimize clients’ legal costs while providing the utmost in quality of service. For more information, visit http://www.cjattorneys.com or call (949) 222-2008.

Contacts:
Keith W. Carlson
keith(at)cjattorneys(dot)com
(949) 222-2008

Christine de Bretteville
christine(at)cjattorneys(dot)com
(949) 222-2008

Jamie Mayorga
jamie(at)cjattorneys(dot)com
(949) 222-2008

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Keith W. Carlson

Christine de Bretteville
@CJattorneys
since: 01/2015
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