This is interesting. On August 1, 2019, the Ninth Circuit certified a pair of questions to the California Supreme Court in Cole v. CRST Van Expedited, Inc. (No. 17-55606) (9th Cir. Aug. 1, 2019). Before we get ahead of ourselves, the California Supreme Court still needs to agree to take up the certified questions. They do so at an exceedingly high rate, but it isn’t a done deal…yet. So, what about those questions? The questions posed are as follows:
1.Does the absence of a formal policy regarding meal and rest breaks violate California law?
2.Does an employer’s failure to keep records for meal and rest breaks taken by its employees create a rebuttable presumption that the meal and rest breaks were not provided?
Slip op., at 4. The case arises in the context of the operation of truck drivers working for a shipping company. The discussion of the reason for the certification clarifies where the Ninth Circuit seeks guidance:
The California Supreme Court did not directly address in Brinker whether the absence of a policy providing for meal and rest breaks constitutes a violation of California labor law. However, in Duran v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 325 P.3d 916,933 n.28 (Cal. 2014), the California Supreme Court observed that “[i]n regard to other wage and hour claims, some courts have held that the absence of a uniform policy supports [class] certification if such a policy is required by law. We express no opinion on this question.” (emphasis in the original).
Slip op., at 11. After noting Benton and Bradley, the Court also observed the concurring comment in Brinker:
In Brinker, Justice Werdegar noted that “[i]f an employer’s records show no meal period for a given shift over five hours, a rebuttable presumption arises that the employee was not relieved of duty and no meal period was provided.” 273 P.3d at 545 (Werdegar, J., concurring).
Slip op. at 12.
If the California Supreme Court takes up the questions, I will be happy to handle action on the outcome for a 5% vig. Kidding. 10%. Still kidding.