An opinion was issued today in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court (Hohnbaum) (4th Dist. No. D049331), regarding meal and rest period criteria and class certification. It isn't yet on the court's website, but here is the holding:
We conclude that the class certification order is erroneous and must be vacated because (1) the order rests on improper criteria and incorrect assumptions with respect to the rest break claims, and the court abused its discretion in finding that those claims are amenable to class treatment; (2) the court's "rolling five-hour" meal period ruling in its July 2005 order was erroneous, and thus the class certification order rests on improper criteria with respect to the rolling five-hour meal period claims; (3) the class certification order rests on an incorrect assumption with respect to the meal period claims to the extent those claims are based on the theory that Brinker had a duty to ensure that its hourly employees took the meal periods it provided to them, and thus the court abused its discretion in finding that these claims are amenable to class treatment; and (4) the court incorrectly assumed it did not have to examine the elements of plaintiffs' "off-the-clock" claims, and thus abused its discretion by finding without such an examination that those claims are amenable to class treatment. Accordingly, we order that a peremptory writ shall issue with directions that the superior court vacate its order granting class certification.
Let a peremptory writ of mandate issue directing the superior court to vacate its July 6, 2006 class certification order, enter a new order denying with prejudice certification of the proposed rest break subclass, and denying without prejudice certification of the proposed meal period and off the clock subclasses. The matter is remanded with directions that the court examine and consider the elements of plaintiffs' meal period and off the clock claims, including the issue of whether Brinker had a duty under section 512(a) and IWC Wage Order No. 5 to ensure that its hourly employees actually took the meal periods it provided to them. The stay issued on December 7, 2006, is vacated. Brinker is entitled to its own costs in this writ proceeding. This opinion is made final immediately as to this court.
The opinion is unpublished.