California’s Supreme Court addressed an issue of great importance to many California employees in professions whose employers are required under California law to give them regular rest breaks during their workday.  In Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., a security firm required its security guard employees to keep their pagers and radios on while on rest breaks mandated by California state law. ABM also required its security guards to respond to emergencies which occurred during these rest breaks. 

The court found ABM’s practice violated provisions of the California state Labor Code, which require California employers to provide certain classifications of employees, including security guards, with rest periods completely free from the performance of any job duties or any control by their employer.  California workers covered by this decision can now be confident their rights to rest periods and meal breaks under California law are  being protected from any control or duties imposed upon them by their employer during those periods.  This is a right that California’s highest court has decisively upheld and that can be challenged in court if your California employer is refusing to honor its legal obligations to provide your state law mandated rest periods and meal breaks.

What The California Supreme Court’s Decision Means for California Employees

Most California employees can no longer be required to be perform any work-related duties, nor can the employer control how an employee chooses to spend the employee’s state law mandated rest periods and meal breaks.  Under the applicable state law, which was promulgated by California’s Industrial Wage Commission in its Wage Orders, every employer is required to give employees a paid rest period of ten minutes for each four hours worked during a workday. The California Legislature also had previously addressed this issue in Section 226.7 of the California Labor Code, which provided that “No employer shall require any employee to work during any meal period or rest period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Wage Commission.”  

The beauty of the California Supreme Court’s recent decision for the affected employees is that it specifically clarified that California state law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods.  The Court specifically concluded that “[d]uring required rest periods, employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.”  Therefore, an employer cannot force an employee to perform job-related functions during their rest periods, including passive activities like monitoring a radio, pager or company-issued mobile phone.  The same is true during state law mandated meal breaks, which are required for nearly all workers if the employee works a shift of more than five hours.  

Contact Rastegar Law Group if Your Employer is Violating Your Rights to Rest or Meal Breaks

If your employer is requiring you to stay on call or is otherwise requiring you to work or trying to control what you can and cannot do during your rest breaks or meal periods, do not hesitate to contact the experienced California employee rights lawyers of Rastegar Law Group today.  As recently decisively affirmed by California’s highest court, an employee’s state law mandated breaks are time the employee can spend however he or she chooses, free from interference from their employer.  If your employer is violating the law by requiring you to spend your break time on-duty or requiring you to perform job-related tasks during your state law mandated rest breaks and meal periods, contact our experienced California employee rights attorneys today at (310) 961-9600 for a free consultation.