The Daily Journal reports this morning that "both management and labor find something to tout in high court's employment decision."
Unfortunately, the article makes a significant misstatement that needs to be corrected. According to the article, Brinker held that "[e]mployers must only make meal-and-rest breaks available." That is not what Brinker held.
Brinker rejected that argument, holding instead that employers must take significant affirmative steps beyond making meal periods "available":
The employer satisfies [its meal period compliance] obligation if it relieves its employees of all duty, relinquishes control over their activities and permits them a reasonable opportunity to take an uninterrupted 30-minute break, and does not impede or discourage them from doing so. What will suffice may vary from industry to industry, and we cannot in the context of this class certification proceeding delineate the full range of approaches that in each instance might be sufficient to satisfy the law.
Slip op. at 36 (emphasis added) (citing, e.g., Cicairos v. Summit Logistics, Inc., 133 Cal.App.4th 949 (2005)); see id. at 31 ("Employers must afford employees uninterrupted half-hour periods in which they are relieved of any duty or employer control and are free to come and go as they please."); id. at 6, 27 (describing rejected employer argument that "an employer is obligated only to 'make available' meal periods").
Yes, the Court declined to accept the final additional bit of our argument, that employers must also "prohibit work" during meal periods (which, by the way, is not the same thing as "policing" the workplace, which was never part of our argument). Slip op. at 33. But the opinion adopts 90% of what we contended employers were obligated to do to comply with their meal period obligations, while rejecting the employers' contention that meals need only be "offered."