April 17, 2007

Biggest Case Of The Year

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!

1 comment:

Leila said...

One of the more interesting applications of the California law comes into play when you are dealing with employees who work on commission. My boyfriend's company ended up in trouble with the State of California because salespeople working on commission refused to take full hour lunch breaks and other mandated breaks because those affected their (the employees') bottom-lines. Now the company has to force them out of the buildings in order to get the salepeople to comply with the law.

Paternalism at work.