Duty-Free Rest Breaks Pursuant to the California Supreme Court’s Ruling in Augustus v. ABM

In December 2016, the California Supreme Court held, in Augustus v. ABM Security Services Inc., that (1) employees have to be relieved of all duties during rest periods pursuant to Labor Code Section 226.7 and Subdivision 12(A) of Wage Order 4; and (2) on-call rest periods are incompatible with state law. The Court found that the wage order and labor code require employers to “relinquish control over how employees spend their time” and “relieve employees of all duties” during employees’ 10-minute rest periods. On-call and on-duty rest periods are prohibited.  Thus, a majority of the California Supreme Court reinstated an $89.7 million judgment for a class of security guards.

The plaintiffs in the case alleged that ABM’s policy of requiring guards to remain on-call — i.e., keeping their radios and pagers on, maintaining vigilance, and responding as needed–violated state wage and hour laws. The trial court sided with the plaintiffs in 2012, awarding approximately 15,000 security guards $89.7 million for rest period violations on summary judgment.  The California Court of Appeal for the Second District reversed the trial court’s ruling in 2015, stating that state law “prohibits only working during a rest break, not remaining available to work” and “remaining available to work is not the same as performing work.” In  December 2016, the California Supreme Court reversed the California Court of Appeal, finding that employers are obligated to provide off-duty rest periods and that on-call rest periods are irreconcilable with this obligation–upholding the multi-million dollar judgment for the plaintiffs.

If you suspect or believe that your employer’s policies regarding rest breaks are in violation of the law, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Please contact us at 310.789.2145 for a free consultation.



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