Well, okay, it’s not Bong Hits For Jesus, but it’s the biggest case of the year for California lawyers practicing employment law.
Labor Code § 226.7 provides that if an employer fails to provide meal and rest periods, the employer owes the employee an additional hour’s pay for each day that such periods were not provided. The question is whether the statute of limitations is one year (as it would be for a statutory penalty) or three years (as it would be for wages). Today, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that monies paid under Labor Code § 226.7 are wages, and therefore subject to the longer statute of limitations. This is a very pro-employee decision and it is quite unlikely that the Legislature will move to amend Labor Code § 226.7 to provide for a contrary result in the future.
Huge. This triples the liability that employers face for these kinds of wage-hour claims. Employers, make your employees take those coffee breaks!