Despite the efforts of otherwise well-meaning employers, break laws are too often overlooked or violated. And the legal consequences can be costly.
California has some of the nation's strictest employment laws, and this includes break laws. This has become a contentious issue for truckers driving through California. Generally speaking, transportation employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break every five hours they work, as well as a 10-minute rest break every four hours they work, while in California.
There is a move in Congress to change this, however. Proposed legislation is currently in Congress and was originally written by Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, California. If passed, this new labor law would not only ban states from setting their own rules for truck drivers’ work hours, but state rules would be pre-empted, as well. The new federal regulations would establish that only a 30-minute rest break is required after eight hours of driving.
The new proposed rules are not welcomed by truckers, who often drive for 10-to-12 hour shifts. Trucking companies, however, contend that they could save substantial amounts in payroll, while minimizing employment lawsuits from drivers claiming they were refused their breaks as required by law.
This proposed policy change has been inserted in both the House transportation funding bill and the Senate’s Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill.
California Lawsuits in the Workplace
Two former employees have accused online ecommerce giant Amazon of various California labor law and wage law violations. These violations are alleged to have occurred at Amazon’s fulfillment centers in Patterson and San Bernardino.
According to the plaintiff's lawsuit, filed in Stanislaus County Superior Court, Amazon management failed to provide them overtime worked, meal breaks and other benefits.
Claiming that the company violated California break law, among other requirements, attorneys for the two ex-employees are seeking a class-action suit. They have based this on grounds that other employees may have been subjected to similar failures of compliance by their employers.
The alleged violations date to actions over the last four years and include failing to provide overtime pay as defined by California wage laws, not providing meal breaks after five consecutive hours of work, failing to pay a split shift premium as required by state Wage Orders, and “rounding” employee's clock-in and clock-out times.
California Break Laws in the Legal Spotlight
Another California employer, UAG Stevens Creek II, Inc., is currently the defendant in a class action lawsuit that alleges the company failed to provide meal and rest periods in accordance with California break law for their sales employees.
The complaint is currently pending in the Santa Clara County Superior Court for the State of California. According to the allegations in the lawsuit, the company failed to provide all employees off-duty meal breaks as required by California break laws defined in the state's Wage Order and Labor Code.
In addition, the company has been accused of failing to accurately record any missed meal and rest breaks, and not paying the proper minimum wages. This latter failure is said to have caused their wage statements issued to employees to be in violation of California law, as well.
California Employers and Labor Law Compliance
Changes in regulations expand the potential of risk for employers, require new workplace postings, or mandate updates to existing workplace policies. We recommend that all employers consult with experienced employment counsel to ensure compliance.
Accurate and timely management and compliance practices are required for every business and every payroll professional. But there are options.
Accuchex, a reputable payroll management services provider, can not only relieve you of the burden of your ongoing payroll process demands, but can potentially prove to be a more cost-effective solution, as well.
Click this link to get your free download of our Employee Rest and Meal Breaks Guide. Or click the button below to learn what you need to know about labor law in California. For more information, feel free to call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.