California Supreme Court rejects "on duty" or "on call" rest breaks in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc.

The California Supreme Court dropped a pretty big opinion in the wage and hour world today, reversing the Court of Appeal in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc. (Dec. 22, 2016).  The Supreme Court specifically waded into the topic of rest breaks, and, specifically, whether an "on call" or "on duty" rest break is ever sufficient.  Here's the summary:

We granted review to address two related issues: whether employers are required to permit their employees to take off-duty rest periods under Labor Code section 226.7 and Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage order No. 4-2001 (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11040 (Wage Order 4)), and whether employers may require their employees to remain "on call" during rest periods. What we conclude is that state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods. During required rest periods, employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time. (See Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004, 1038-1039 (Brinker).)

Slip op., at 1.  While this decision won't directly impact most wage and hour cases, given that it is fairly specific to the sort of job circumstances encountered by employees like security guards, it will put a little bit of weight on the scale when rest break claims are up for settlement or certification.

If I can, I will write more about this decision later, but, for now, the first paragraph pretty much summarizes the result.

Roxborough, Pomerance, Nye & Adreani, Drew E. Pomerance, Michael B Adreani, Marina N. Vitek; The Ehrlich Law Firm, Jeffrey Isaac Ehrlich; Initiative Legal Group, Monica Balderrama, G. Arthur Meneses; Scott Cole & Associates, Scott Edward Cole, Matthew R. Bainer; Law Offices of Alvin L Pittman and Alvin L. Pittman were listed as counsel for Plaintiffs and Respondents.  Mr. Pomerance argued for Plaintiff.  Well done, Drew!