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Employers Can’t Eat in to Workers’ Lunch Period says Lawsuit

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Los Angeles, CACalifornia employers got a big heads up in December 2016 when the highest court in the State came down on the side of workers who either expect to be paid or left in peace during their breaks.

Los Angeles employment lawyer, Nicholas De Blouw, from Blumenthal Nordrehaug & Bhowmik says that Augustus v ABM Security Services decision by the California Supreme Court now looms large when there are issues concerning meal breaks and rest periods for workers in the state of California.

“It was a hugely important case,” says De Blouw. “It was a case dealing with security guards at ABM Security. The court said the security guards that had a pager were on call.”

“The decision means there is no such thing as an ‘on call rest period’. If you have a pager, or if you have to potentially work during your rest period then that’s is when the company is obligated to pay you under the labor code.”

Specifically the California Supreme Court said that during rest breaks “employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.”

“After that decision the obligation to respect rest periods is even more so than it was in the past,” says De Blouw. “Employers have to allow their employees to have off duty rest periods or they need to be paid.”

Blumenthal Nordrehaug & Bhowmik specializes in helping employees fight back against unfair business practice including violations of the California Labor Code and Fair Labor Standards Act.

De Blouw does not comment on pending litigation.

However, his firm has currently lodged a class action lawsuit against Service King Paint & Body for alleged similar violations on behalf of all non-exempt employees. The complaint charges Service King employees were not provided “timely thirty minute uninterrupted mean breaks” nor were they given “compliant off duty rest breaks”.

Workers were also, according to the complaint, required to pay for their own company logo uniforms.

The complaint is limited to California workers and the proposed class is all non-exempt employees that worked for Service King Paint and Body LLC in California.

As an employment lawyer De Blouw has represented hundreds of workers in similar types of litigation where meal breaks and rest periods are at issue. He sees a common theme.

“A lot of the cases it is the employer trying to save labor costs and squeeze the employee. They under staff their labor and that’s when you run into employee rest break problems,” says De Blouw.

Service King is headquartered in Richardson, Texas. It was established in 1977 and has 324 locations in 24 states.

The company did not reply to a request for comment from LAS.

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