¡No Quiero Taco Bell! Taco Bell Hit With Half A Million Judgment For Missed Meal Periods

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¡No Quiero Taco Bell! Taco Bell Hit With Half A Million Judgment For Missed Meal PeriodsTaco Bell Hit With Half A Million Judgment For Missed Meal Periods

By: Greg Blueford

A recent decision out of a federal court in California left Taco Bell sick to their stomach after a jury awarded a class of workers a grande award of $496,000 for missed meal breaks for which they were only partially paid.  The plaintiff claimed that from 2003 through late 2007 Taco Bell had a policy of only paying a 30-minute premium when an employee was not permitted to take their meal break, instead of the full hour of premium pay that is required under California law. After a multi-week trial, the jury agreed, finding that approximately 134,000 employees were not provided a full hour of pay for missed meal breaks.

The plaintiffs also asserted additional alleging unlawful meal and rest period violations. Taco Bell had created a “Required Rest Break and Meal Period Matrix” that was printed in its employee handbooks. The plaintiffs alleged the handbook reflected a policy of providing meal breaks after five hours of work despite the fact that California law requires employees to take their lunch before the completion of five hours of work, if they work at least 6 hours. The Matrix also indicated that employee were only allowed one 10-minute rest break if they worked a shift longer than six hours but less than seven hours.

However, the jury passed on the churros, concluding that the employees had not proven either that the employees who worked shifts longer than six hours were not given a meal break by the end of the fifth hour or that employees who worked between six and seven hours were not given a second rest break.

Counsel To Management

A harsh consequence of meal and rest break violations is that employees are due a full hour of wages for every missed meal and rest break, rather than the actual time that the employee would have been on the meal or rest break. However, regardless of the number of meal or rest break violations that occur in a day, an employer is only responsible for paying one meal break premium and one rest break premium per day. It is important that your company pay employees appropriate meal and rest break premiums. The failure to do so on a consistent basis will result in party-pack of litigation. If you have any questions contact The Saqui Law Group for guidance on your company’s meal and rest period policies.


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