Earlier today I ran across a post at The Witness Box, a blog by the law firm Jackson Lewis. Their post, entitled "Wage and hour developments: 1 for the plaintiff - 1 for the defense," presented two wage & hour developments, one apparently "pro-plaintiff" and one apparently "pro-defense." The "pro-plaintiff" development concerns Massachusetts law; it is thus of little interest to me, particularly for this presumably California-centric blog. The "pro-defense" development is another matter.
Wage & hour practitioners will recall Murphy v. Kenneth Cole Prods. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 1094, in which the California Supreme Court determined that the one hour of pay owed to an employee that misses a meal break is a wage and not a penalty (with a 1-year Statute of Limitation). When coupled with Unfair Competition Law claims, this ruling effectively provided a 4-year Statute of Limitation to claims for missed meal breaks.
Not excited yet, Non-Wage & Hour Practitioner? Then let me try to expand the relevance a little. Murphy resulted in a predictable upswing in meal break claim class actions. Earlier this year, Senator Margett introduced SB 1192, which would have re-classified the "pay" owed to an employee for a missed meal break as a penalty, thereby truncating the claim period to one year. Which brings me to my observation about the post on the Witness Box. According to The Witness Box article, SB 1192 represents the legislature's effort to ease penalties for missed meal breaks.
Not so fast. According to the California Sentate, the first hearing on SB 1192 was "canceled at the request of author." Couple that with reporting by Storm's California Employment Law blog that "SB 1192 appears dead," and things aren't looking good for SB 1192. Or for that premature call of "1 for the plaintiff - 1 for the defense." The moral of the story is that it is good to know about proposed legislation, but don't place any weight on a bill that hasn't even managed to have its scheduled hearing in committee.