As with the United States Supreme Court’s decision last year in Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the employment law community eagerly awaits the impact of the California’s Supreme Court’s recent decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. on pending and new putative class actions alleging violations of California meal and rest period requirements. One early return favors employers, as a superior court judge in Los Angeles County has denied a class certification motion, citing Brinker. Kimani, et al. v. Healthcare Investments, Inc., Los Angeles County, BC432360, 05/11/12 (Strobel, J).
In Kimani. plaintiffs alleged, inter alia, that the employer failed to “provide” a second meal break after five hours of work for employees working two consecutive eight-hour shifts, an alleged violation of California Labor Code § 512(a) and I.W.C. Wage Order No. 9 (11). While Plaintiff established that defendant’s time records reflected that a second official break was not taken within the first 10 hours of work, in supplemental briefing defendant offered evidence that any employee working two 8-hour shifts was offered an opportunity for a paid break (not reflected in the timecards) between the two shifts. Because this evidence created the need for individualized determination as to whether such second breaks had been “provided” under Brinker, the court found there was insufficient “commonality” among the proposed class, and certification was denied.
Numerous current defendants, and any new defendants in California meal-and-rest class actions, will immediately take up the mantle of Brinker, as Healthcare Investments has successfully done. The full impact of the decision remains to be seen.