COMMENTARY | According to the Associated Press, California's Supreme Court has ruled employers aren't mandated to force employees to eat during lunch breaks. Employers cannot deprive an employee of a lunch break, but whether the employee actually takes the break is his or her decision.
And all of this seems to be a matter of common sense. I understand the California labor law regarding allowing employees to have a meal break. But to force an employee to take a meal break whether they want to or not? The court says that's unmanageable, and I agree.
What surprises me is the fact the case took nine years to be decided. According to the article, in spite of the fact California is one of the few states to impose monetary fines on employers who violate labor laws, companies have spent millions of dollars fighting class-action lawsuits regarding the provision of employee meal breaks.
And some are saying the issue won't end here. The opinion reportedly has, according to employment lawyer Mark Neubauer, "enough holes open that creative plaintiff's lawyers will continue to file these cases." But some restaurant owners say the opinion will help guide them into how to best meet their obligations to employees.
It's a shame the guidance on how to provide state-mandated meal breaks had to come at the expense of millions of dollars to lawyers and years in a court room, isn't it.