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California Supreme Court: California Prohibits On-Duty And On-Call Rest Periods

Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc.

On December 22, 2016, the California Supreme Court in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc., ruled that California law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest periods.

You may recall that in July of 2012, a Los Angeles trial court awarded a class of more than 14,000 security guards almost $90 million in statutory damages, interest, and penalties against their employer for violating California law by requiring the security guards to carry radios or pagers while on their rest breaks.

The Supreme Court addressed whether: (1) employers must permit their employees to take off-duty rest periods under California Labor Code section 226.7 and Wage Order 4; and (2) employers may require their employees to remain on-call during rest periods. The Supreme Court decided that ABM’s requirement that its guards carry a communications device or otherwise remain reachable in case of emergency, standing alone, is incompatible with ABM’s legal obligation to provide a rest period.

Off-Duty Rest Periods

With respect to off-duty rest periods, the Court concluded “that the construction of Wage Order 4, subdivision 12(A) that best effectuates the order’s purpose and remains true to its provisions is one that obligates employers to permit––and authorizes employees to take––off-duty rest periods. That is, during rest periods employers must relieve employees of all duties and relinquish control over how employees spend their time.”

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Source: Lexology

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