A three-judge state appellate court panel in California ended 2014 with an opinion that may reverberate in employment law circles well into 2015. Addressing a class action lawsuit brought by thousands of security guards, the court unanimously determined that the employer did not violate California employment laws by requiring security guards to carry a radio during their breaks, effectively putting them on call during their breaks. In doing so, the appellate court vacated an $89.7 million judgment rendered by the trial judge that accounted for all improper breaks taken by the more than 14,000 security guards over a 10-year period.
As the court explained, “[t]he issue is whether simply being on call constitutes performing ‘work.’ We conclude it does not.” Also important to the court was its determination that California law does not require that employees be relieved of all duties during meal and rest breaks.
With the complexities of wage and hour laws, employers must continue to tread carefully and remain aware of legal developments that may impact their employment policies.
Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., Case No. B243788 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2014)