Rex Heinke and Christopher Petersen Examine Brinker’s Legacy for Westlaw Employment

Westlaw Journal – Employment has published “Brinker’s legacy, one year in,” an article by Akin Gump appellate practice co-head Rex Heinke and labor practice associate Christopher Petersen that discusses the impact of Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court on meal break, rest break and off-the-clock claims.  Heinke argued Brinker before the California Supreme Court.

The article describes the debate emerging from lower courts in California pre-Brinker regarding whether the nature of an employer’s duty is to “provide” breaks to employees or to “ensure” that employees take breaks.

In Brinker, the California Supreme Court adopted the “provide” standard for meal break claims, the authors note, and employers are required merely to relieve employees of duty, but not to ensure they take breaks.  Heinke and Petersen write that “[m]ost courts deciding certification of meal break classes in the year since Brinker have followed this rationale” and that “[r]esults in rest break class actions echo those in meal break class actions in many respects.”

The article briefly discusses Brinker’s impact on off-the-clock claims, then concludes with the statement that “Brinker has laid to rest any notion that employers must ‘ensure’ employees take breaks. This alleviates a primary source of contention not only in terms of liabilitybut also in terms of the propriety of class certification…Brinker has also severely limited rest period and off-the-clock class actions.”

To read the full article, please click here.