Brinker Rest. Corp. v. Superior Court, 53 Cal. 4th 1004 (2012)

In this long-awaited opinion, the California Supreme Court determined several important issues of law regarding meal and rest breaks. First and foremost, the Supreme Court determined that “an employer’s obligation is to relieve its employee of all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purpose he or she desires, but the employer need not ensure that no work is done.” The Court also issued rulings concerning the certification of three subclasses of employees, holding that the trial court had properly certified a subclass for rest break violations (because of the employer’s uniform policy denying same) and had properly denied certification of a subclass involving “off-the-clock” violations (because of a lack of evidence of common policies or means of proof). Finally, the Court remanded the case to the trial court to reconsider whether the subclass involving meal break violations should have been certified. See also Kirby v. Immoos Fire Prot., Inc., 53 Cal.4th 1244 (2012) (prevailing party on claim for violation of Labor Code § 226.7 involving meal and rest break requirements may not recover its attorney’s fees).