Author Archives: michael

On-Call Rest Breaks Illegal in California

Call Strauss & Strauss today to recover wages owed for unpaid on-call rest periods.

Today the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Inc. (the decision of the Supreme Court is below). The primary holding of the decision is that California law prohibits on-duty and on-call rest breaks. In other words, California employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how the employees spend their break time. On-Duty rest breaks are illegal in California, and on-call rest breaks are illegal in California too.

On-Duty Rest Breaks Are Illegal in California

California law requires employers to provide nonexempt employees with a 10-minute, paid rest break for every four hours of work. The question answered by the Augustus case was whether California employers can interrupt their employees’ rest breaks if there was a need, such as an emergency or other reason.

The facts were these: ABM, a security guard company, provided rest periods to its security guards. But the company did not relinquish all control over the guards during their rest periods. In particular, ABM required guards to keep their radios and pagers on, remain vigilant, and respond when needs arose, such as escorting tenants to parking lots, notifying building managers of mechanical problems, and responding to emergency situations.

Call Strauss & Strauss today to recover wages owed for unpaid on-call rest periods.

Call Strauss & Strauss today to recover wages owed for unpaid on-call rest periods.

The California Supreme Court held that during rest breaks employers must relieve employees of all duties and relinquish control over how employees spend their time.

In other words, California law requires employers to provide off-duty rest breaks to nonexempt employees.

On-Call Rest Breaks Are Illegal in California

The Augustus court then turned its attention to whether “on-call” rest breaks are illegal under California law. The question was “can an employer satisfy its obligation to relieve employees from duties and employer control during rest periods when the employer nonetheless requires its employees to remain on call?” The Supreme Court’s answer was “No.” The court reasoned as follows:

[O]ne cannot square the practice of compelling employees to remain at the ready, tethered by time and policy to particular locations or communications devices, with the requirement to relieve employees of all work duties and employer control during 10-minute rest periods.

The takeaway from this decision is that California employers cannot require employees to remain on-call during their rest breaks. On-call rest breaks are illegal in California.

My Employer Makes Me Stay On-Call During My Rest Breaks, What Should I Do?

If your employer makes you stay on-call during your rest breaks, call us immediately for assistance. Employers cannot make you stay on-call during your rest breaks. If they make you stay on-call during your rest breaks, the law says they must pay you one hour of pay for every rest period that you missed because you were on call. California law lets employees go back as far as four years to recover this one hour of pay for each rest break violation. Call us now to see if you have a claim for unpaid on-call rest breaks in California.

Download the PDF file .

Labor Commissioner Award in Owner-Operator Misclassification Case

Strauss & Strauss recently obtained a victory of over $74,000 against Central Freight Lines, Inc. The case, Villarreal v. Central Freight Lines, Inc., was heard by the California Labor Commissioner. Plaintiff sought unlawfully deducted wages, interest thereon, and penalties. The Labor Commissioner sided with the plaintiff and issued the award below.

This case was another owner-operator misclassification case. Plaintiff was a driver for Central Freight Lines, Inc., and he leased his truck from the company. Central Freight Lines, Inc. deducted various items from Plaintiff’s pay, including sums for maintenance, insurance, and the lease payments. The Labor Commissioner found that Plaintiff was lawfully an employee, not an independent contractor, and that the deductions that Central Freight Lines, Inc. made from his pay violated California law, which prohibits employers from making certain types of deductions from pay.

The decision of the Labor Commissioner is below. Please call Strauss & Strauss if you have been misclassified as an owner-operator independent contractor driver for a trucking company.

Download the PDF file .

Michael Strauss Interviewed by National Publication

Michael Strauss of Strauss & Strauss, A Professional Corporation, was recently interviewed and quoted at length by Law360.com. The article, which deals with the recent settlement of FedEx employee-misclassification cases throughout the country, is available here

Judgment for Unpaid Overtime Obtained in Kern County

On March 10, 2016, the Kern County Superior Court entered judgment in favor of Warren Davis against his former employer, Komoto Pharmacy, Inc., for nearly $80,000 in unpaid overtime and interest thereon. Davis, a licensed pharmacist and the “pharmacist-in-charge” of Komoto Medical Pharmacy in Bakersfield, alleged that he was not paid overtime when he worked over eight hours in a day or 40 hours a week, as required by California law. Medical Pharmacy argued that Davis, as the “pharmacist-in-charge,” was exempt from overtime pay. Davis also brought additional claims, including a claim for wrongful termination.

Judge David R. Lampe of the Kern County Superior Court found for Davis on the claim for unpaid overtime after a bench trial. The court found that Komoto Pharmacy failed to prove that Davis was exempt from overtime pay, and that Davis worked on average 15 hours of overtime per month. Including interest, the court awarded Davis $79,341.32 on his claim for unpaid overtime.

Michael Strauss, who represented Davis at trial, was pleased with the outcome. “Mr. Davis worked hard for Medical Pharmacy, and I’m happy that he is finally being awarded the overtime that he earned.”

By California law, pharmacists cannot be exempt from overtime under the “professional” exemption, which is available to professionals such as doctors, lawyers, architects, dentists, optometrists, engineers, teachers, or accountants. Pharmacists can only be exempt from overtime under the “administrative” or “executive” exemptions set forth in California’s IWC Wage Orders and the Labor Code. (See Lab. Code, § 1186.)

A copy of the court’s statement of decision is below.

Download the PDF file .

Firm Name Change to Strauss & Strauss, APC

We are pleased to announce that Palay Law Firm, APC has become Strauss & Strauss, APC. The name change is effective immediately. The law firm’s headquarters will remain at its current location: 121 N. Fir St., Suite F, Ventura, California 93001.

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