$90 Judgment Reinstated: Employers Must Relieve Employees Of All Duties During Their Break Time

Today, the California Supreme Court ruled that California law strictly 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.” This class action was filed on behalf of all ABM security guards, alleging that ABM consistently failed to provide uninterrupted rest periods as required by state law. During the litigation, 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 to provide guards with rest periods subject to employer control and the obligation to perform certain work-related duties was illegal as a matter of law. The trial court subsequently awarded the class approximately $90 million in statutory damages, interest and penalties. Augustus v. ABM Sec. Servs., Inc. (Cal. S. Ct. 2016)