Augustus v. ABM Sec. Servs., Inc., 2016 WL 7407328 (Cal. S. Ct. 2016)

Jennifer Augustus filed this putative class action on behalf of all ABM security guards, alleging that ABM consistently failed to provide uninterrupted rest periods as required by state law. During discovery, ABM acknowledged that it required guards to keep their radios and pagers on, remain vigilant and respond when needs arose, such as escorting tenants to parking lots, notifying building managers of mechanical problems and responding to emergency situations during their breaks. The trial court granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary adjudication on their rest period claim on the ground that ABM’s policy was to provide guards with rest periods subject to employer control and the obligation to perform certain work-related duties. The trial court subsequently awarded the class approximately $90 million in statutory damages, interest and penalties. The Court of Appeal reversed, but in this opinion, the California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal and held, consistent with the trial court’s judgment, that California law prohibits on-duty rest periods. “What [the law] require[s] instead is that employers relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time, and relieve their employees of all duties – including the obligation that an employee remain on call.”