A California court of appeals has denied the request of a former Chipotle employee to certify a class of current and former non-managerial employees alleging that the company violated labor laws by denying them meal and rest breaks. Hernandez v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., No. B216004 (Cal. Ct. App., 2d Dist., Div. 8, modified opinion filed October 28, 2010). The court agreed with the defendant that California law requires that employers provide, but not ensure, that employees take breaks.
The court also found no error in the trial court’s denial of class certification because the court record showed that “Chipotle did not have a universal practice with regard to breaks.” Apparently, while the company paid for meal and rest breaks, some employees declared that they always missed meal breaks, some missed meal breaks but not rest breaks, some were not denied meal breaks, and others declared their breaks were delayed or interrupted with varying degrees of frequency. The record also provided substantial evidence of an antagonism so substantial among class members “as to defeat the purpose of class certification.”