Plaintiff Jennifer Augustus and others, formerly security guards employed by defendant ABM Security Services, Inc. (hereafter ABM), allege on behalf of themselves and a class of similarly situated individuals that ABM failed to provide rest periods required by California law in that it failed to relieve security guards of all duties during rest breaks, instead requiring its guards to remain on call during breaks.So, the security guards were posted a job sites, where they were responsible for ensuring the security of the property, responding to calls, etc. They were provided rest periods in accordance with the law (at least 10 minutes, paid, for each four hours of work). But
ABM admitted it requires its security guards to keep their radios and pagers on during rest breaks, to remain vigilant, and to respond when needs arise, such as when a tenant wishes to be escorted to the parking lot, a building manager must be notified of a mechanical problem, or an emergency situation occurs.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. In doing so, it analyzed what the employer must do to authorize and permit a valid rest period. Here's the meat of the analysis:
The text of the wage order does not describe the nature of a rest period, but section 226.7 offers a partial definition: “An employer shall not require an employee to work during a meal or rest or recovery period.” (Italics added.) *** Section 226.7 therefore provides our only guidance as to the nature of a rest break, and it says only that an employee cannot be required “to work” during a break. ***
Not only did the IWC decline to distinguish between on- and off-duty rest periods, its prescription that on-duty meal periods be paid, coupled with the mandate that all rest periods be paid, implies rest periods are normally taken while on duty, i.e., while subject to employer control. There is no support, therefore, in the text of Wage Order No. 4, the Labor Code, or any DLSE opinion letter for plaintiffs’ claim that a rest break is valid only if the employee is relieved of all duties. ***
On-call status is a state of being, not an action. But section 226.7 prohibits only the action, not the status. In other words, it prohibits only working during a rest break, not remaining available to work. * * *
“In sum, although on-call hours constitute “hours worked,” remaining available to work is not the same as performing work. (See Mendiola, supra, 2015 Cal. LEXIS at p. 9 [distinguishing readiness to serve from service itself]; see also Cal. Code Regs., tit. 8, § 11040, subd. 2(K) [distinguishing “hours worked” from work actually performed].) Section 226.7 proscribes only work on a rest break.”The Court then held that the trial court properly certified the class. However, the effect of that part of the ruling is to doom the entire class's claim.
Have a restful weekend!