The California Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Brinker Restaurant v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum, et al., real parties in interest) on November 8, 2011, according to the Court docket issued recently. The Court generally issues decisions within 90 days after completion of oral argument and submission of post-argument briefs, if any. A decision is expected by mid-February, 2012.
At issue in the case is whether California employers must ensure that their employees actually take their meal and rest periods or merely make them available. Guidance is also anticipated regarding the time in the workday in which meal and rest periods must be taken and whether or not legally-compliant meal and rest period policies can protect an employer against class actions even when these policies are unevenly enforced.
The decision is extremely important to California employers because meal and rest period claims have been the basis of hundreds of class action lawsuits in California. The Court’s decision could make it more difficult for plaintiffs to bring these claims as class actions, or, depending on the ruling, could establish rigid guidelines which may foster more class actions. Either way, California employers and Plaintiffs class action lawyers alike have eagerly awaited this decision since the Supreme Court took up the case in October, 2008 and look forward to receiving guidance from the high court.