Taco Bell workers were recently awarded $496,000.00 in a class action lawsuit which claimed Taco Bell violated the rest and meal period law violations.
The Taco Bell Class Action lawsuit consisted of 134,000 employees. These employees claimed that Taco Bell failed to adequately provide meal breaks before the fifth hour of work as required by California law.
The employee did not win on all fronts of their case but they did prevail on their claim that Taco Bell failed to properly pay them when a meal break was skipped.
Had Taco Bell had a solid defendable Meal and Rest Period policy they would not have had to go to court in the first place.
Had the employees prevailed on the other claims the case would have been a lot more expensive to Taco Bell. With that being the case we want to use this article to help employers understand what they must now do in order to comply with the California Labor Laws concerning Rest and Meal Periods.
Below is the main aspects of a solid and defendable Rest Break and Meal Period Policy.
Rest and Meal Period Policy
- If you are a nonexempt employee, you will be paid for all such break periods, and you will not clock out.
- All company employees are required to remain on the work premises during your rest break(s). You are expected to return to work promptly at the end of any rest break.
Number of Rest Breaks
- All company employees will be authorized and permitted one (1) 10-minute net rest break for every four (4) hours you work (or major fraction thereof, which is defined as any amount of time over two  hours).
- A rest break need not be authorized for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one half (3.5) hours.
- If you work a shift from three and one-half (3.5) to six (6) hours in length you will be entitled to one (1) ten-minute rest break.
- If company employees work more than six (6) hours and up to 10 hours, you will be entitled to two (2) ten-minute rest breaks. If an employee works more than 10 hours and up to 14 hours, the employee will be entitled to three (3) ten-minute rest breaks.
Timing of Rest Breaks
Employees are authorized and permitted to take a rest break in the middle of each four hour work period.
Your rest break will be scheduled by the company supervisor.
- All nonexempt employees will be provided an uninterrupted unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes if you work more than five (5) hours in a workday.
- All employees must clock out for their meal period. Employees will be permitted a reasonable opportunity to take this meal period, and you will be relieved of all duty. During the meal period, all employees are free to come and go as you please and are free to leave the premises. All employees are expected to return to work promptly at the end of any meal period.
- If the employees total work period for the day is more than five hours per day but no more than six hours, you may waive the meal period. This cannot be done without the mutual consent of the employee and the company supervisor. You must discuss any such waiver with your supervisor in advance.
- The waiver must be in writing.
Timing of Meal Period
Your meal period will be provided no later than the end of your fifth hour of work. For example, if you begin work at 8:00 a.m., you must start your meal period by 12:59 p.m. (which is before the end of your fifth hour of work).
Second Meal Period
- If an employee works more than 10 hours in a day, you will said employee must be provided a second, unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes. Again, you must clock out for your meal period.
- All Employees will be permitted a reasonable opportunity to take this meal period, and you will be relieved of all duty.
- There will be no control over the employee’s activities during your meal period.
- During the employee’s meal period, all employees are free to leave the premises and are free to come and go as you please. All employees are expected to return to work promptly at the end of any meal period.
Depending on the circumstances, the employee may be able to waive your second meal period if you took the first meal period and if your total hours worked for the day is no more than twelve hours. This cannot be done without the mutual consent of the employee and your supervisor and must be in writing. All employees must discuss any such waiver with your supervisor in advance.
Timing of Second Meal Period
- This second meal period will be provided no later than the end of your 10th hour of work.
- The employee’s second meal period will be scheduled by the supervisor.
Recording Meal Periods
- All employees must clock out for any meal period and record the start and end of the meal period.
- Employees are not allowed to work “off the clock.” All work time must be accurately reported on your time record.
The new California Labor Laws of which the proper provision for Employee Rest and Meal Periods must be followed to a tee, if an employer is going to be able to defend themselves in a Class Action Lawsuit. California has been helping employers to protect their rights since 1997.
If you should have any questions one of our qualified staff will be more than happy to assist you, in the matters of California Labor Laws and Cal-OSHA Compliance.
Everything that we do and provide employers serves two purposes:
- To make compliance easy. Most employers are wearing many different hats these days and just don’t have the time nor the knowledge necessary to write effective policies.
To give California Employers a defendable position to stand on everything from providing the proper Rest and Meal period Policies, to Sexual and other forms of Unlawful Harassment to CAl-OSHA Compliance.