The California Supreme Court has finally scheduled oral arguments in the case of Brinker v. Hohnbaum for November 8th. For those who aren't aware of what the Brinker case is all about, the key issue is the employer's duty in providing meal periods. The debate has raged for several years now as to whether the employer need only make available the opportunity for the employee to take their meal period, or whether the employer has an affirmative duty to ensure the employee gets to lunch. It will all come down to how the Court interprets the word provide in the statute. Employers and plaintiff's counsel alike have been waiting for three years for clarification on this issue, as various courts, and even the DLSE, have taken different stances. Given the date of oral arguments, a decision could come as early as next February.
An important corollary to this question will be whether the Court find a way to not make its interpretation retroactive, for instance, due to the previous lack of clarity in the lower courts. A retroactive adverse decision in Brinker could be disastrous for employers, as many have moved forward over the past few years under the "make available" standard.
There's sure to be a crowd present at the Earl Warren Building in San Francisco to get a chance to hear these arguments. Get there early to get a seat, but don't expect anyone to provide you a rest break if you have to wait in line.