Publication Details

Special Alert: California Supreme Court Opines on Rounding Meal Period Time and Associated Penalties

Feb 26, 2021 | Related Attorneys Emily J. Fox, Kirsten F. Gallacher | Topics: Employment, Class Actions

In Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC, (Cal., Feb. 25, 2021) No. S253677, 2021 WL 728871, --- P.3d ---- (Liu, J.), the California Supreme Court held that employers cannot engage in the practice of rounding time punches (i.e., adjusting the hours that an employee has actually worked to the nearest preset increment) in the meal period context. The Court reasoned California’s meal period provisions are intended to prevent even minor infringements on meal period requirements, and rounding is incompatible with this purpose.

The Court also adopted Justice Werdegar’s discussion of the rebuttable presumption in her concurrence in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1004 and held that time records showing noncompliant meal periods raise a rebuttable presumption of meal period violations. An employer’s assertion that an employee waived a meal period is not an element that a plaintiff must disprove as part of the plaintiff’s case in chief—rather, it is an affirmative defense, and the burden is on the employer to plead and prove an employee’s waiver of a meal period. This rebuttable presumption goes to the question of liability, applies at the summary judgment stage, and applies to records showing missed meal periods as well as short or delayed meal periods.

This Special Alert will provide you with key takeaways related to these new standards.

To view attachment, click here.