In Paige v. Consumer Programs Inc., No. CV-07-2498-MWF (RCx) (C.D. Cal. Jul. 16.2012), Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald granted class certification of meal period and rest break claims:
The parties disagree about the meaning of Brinker and its impact on the Court’s assessment of the adequacy of the purported class under Rule 23(b)(1) and (3). As a result, it is important for the Court to clarify the import of the majority opinion in Brinker as it applies to this case. The portion of the Brinker decision relevant here examined whether, when assessing meal and rest break claims under California law, “individual questions or questions of common or general interest predominate.” Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004, 1017, 139 Cal. Rptr. 3d 315 (2012). This determination is relevant to the analysis of class sufficiency. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(3) ....
The California Supreme Court in Brinker allowed for the possibility that meal and rest break claims could predominately feature questions of general interest. The Brinker Court ultimately held that, under California law, “an employer’s obligation is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purpose he or she desires.” Brinker, 53 Cal. 4th at 1017. The employer’s duty is not to ensure that no work takes place during a given period, but to provide what is a substantively meaningful break. See generally id. The employer satisfies this obligation to uninterrupted, (2) is free to leave the premises, and (3) is relieved of all duty for the entire period.” Id. at 1036. Additionally, the Brinker court observed that an “employer may not undermine a formal policy of providing meal breaks by pressuring employees to perform their duties in ways that omit breaks.” Id. at 1040.
The Brinker court did not elaborate on every possible form of common proof that may satisfy a predominance assessment, but explained that, where it is alleged with support that common, uniform policies consistently applied resulted in the purported violations, class treatment is appropriate. Id. at 1033. Because the plaintiff in Brinker alleged such a uniform policy with regard to rest breaks, the Brinker court determined that the rest break claims could proceed on a class-wide basis. Id. at 1033.
Slip op. at 2-3. This is one of the better and more accurate summaries of the opinion that I have seen by a lower court since the decision was handed down in April. Judge Pregerson's summary in Ricaldi is also very good.