Augustus v. ABM Sec. Servs., Inc., 182 Cal. Rptr. 3d 676 (2015)

In this class action lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged that ABM did not provide rest periods to its security guard employees because it failed to relieve them of all duties and required them to remain on call during their breaks. The trial court certified the class and granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary adjudication, concluding an employer must relieve its employees of all duties during rest breaks, including the obligation to remain on call. The trial court also granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on the issue of damages, awarding plaintiffs more than $90 million in statutory damages, interest, penalties and attorney’s fees. The Court of Appeal reversed the grant of summary adjudication and summary judgment, holding that “Labor Code § 226.7 prescribes only that an employee not be required to work during a rest break, not that he or she be relieved of all duties, such as the duty to remain on call. Remaining on call does not itself constitute performing work.” However, the Court affirmed the trial court’s order certifying the class, in light of evidence that ABM possessed a uniform policy of requiring its security guards to remain on call during their rest breaks. The fact that the policy may not have been uniformly applied “would go only to the issue of damages.” Compare Mies v. Sephora USA, Inc., 2015 WL 798709 (Cal. Ct. App. 2015) (trial court properly denied certification to putative class of “Specialists” who manage 10 to 45 subordinate employees where evidence showed they “handled their time very differently” in performing a wide variety of tasks).