The Fourth District has heard oral argument in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Hohnbaum (4th Dist. No. D049331), noted as one of the first five large meal period class actions to be certified. Among other things, the case casts a second look at what it means to provide a meal period, as is required under the IWC wage orders, perhaps with an eye toward revisiting another appellate district's 2005 ruling in Cicairos v. Summit Logistics, Inc. (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 949. The earlier case affirmatively required employers to ensure that workers are actually relieved of all duty during meal periods. Employers argue for "provide" to mean something more synonymous with the rest period duties to "permit and authorize." They also argue that the difference substantially affects the likelihood that a case could be suitable for class action treatment.
The case was ably argued on both sides, but none of the observers we've chatted, texted, IMd or emailed with had any strong opinions as to whether or where the court will end up on the certification issues. If you saw the arguments and have an opinion, please leave a comment. The one and only unanimous view we've heard is that Miles Locker argued well for the amici and that the justices seemed very interested in what he had to say about the DLSE regulations and practices. Aside from that, defense lawyers seemed to believe the employer's side was better presented, and employees' lawyers thought the opposite.
You can track the progress of Brinker here.