03 Dec Meal Periods Shortened by Employer to Less Than 30 Minutes Results in Substantial Liability
On November 30, 2018, the Court of Appeal in Kaanaana v. Barrett Business Services, Inc. made clear that an employee’s right to a duty-free 30-minute meal period is separate and distinct from his or her right to be paid one hour of “premium pay” for not receiving such. The plaintiffs in Kaanaana brought a class action lawsuit alleging that because their employer had shortened their meal periods by three to five minutes, they were entitled to be paid for the entire 30 minute meal period and one hour of premium pay. The employer argued that the employees were only entitled to one hour of premium pay for those shortened meal periods. The Kaanaana court held that employees were entitled to pay for the three to five minutes time of their 30 minute meal periods they did not receive, one hour of premium pay for not receiving a duty-free 30-minute meal period, waiting time penalties for not receiving all wages due on termination if the employment relationship was severed, and because the work the plaintiffs were performing was covered by the prevailing wage law, civil penalties for the payment of wages less than the legal minimum. The case was remanded to the trial judge to recalculate plaintiffs’ recovery, including an award of attorney fees to the plaintiffs.