The California Supreme Court has issued its ruling on Employer obligations to provide meal periods to employees. Brinker Restaurant Association v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 273 P. 3d 513 (2012). The Court held that an employer must provide the employee with a meal period within the employee’s first 5 hours of the workday (before the start of the 6th hour). To be in compliance, the employee must be relieved of all duty, and the employer must not have any control over the employee’s activities. Also, the employee must be given a reasonable opportunity to take the uninterrupted 30 minute break. Employer’s can’t impede or discourage employees from taking their meal period. However, the employer does not have to police the meal period to make sure the employee is not working.
The Court does confirm that where the employee is scheduled to work only a 6 hour shift the employer and the employee can waive the meal period. While not required, it is recommended that the waiver be in writing.
Finally, the Court holds that the employee is entitled to a second meal period after no more than 10 hours worked in a workday.