Reprinted with the permission from Jason Resnick, General Counsel - Western Growers
Previously published in Western Growers Spotlight on August 29, 2013
The California Supreme Court has declined to review Bluford v. Safeway Stores, Inc. In Bluford, a class-action lawsuit was brought on behalf of unionized truck drivers who worked throughout Northern California. Under the compensation plan agreed to at the bargaining table, drivers' wages were based on a mileage rate for miles driven and different rates for other tasks, but there was no means for recording rest breaks. Employees were not paid a separate rate for paid rest breaks, and there was no indication on the employees' wage statements that time spent on rest breaks would be paid. The Court of Appeal held that even though Safeway had a policy to provide paid rest periods, under a piece-rate system, rest periods must be separately compensated. Since Safeway failed to compensate employees separately for rest periods, the employer's policy amounted to averaging hourly compensation and thus did not comply with California minimum wage law.