Is Your Employer Paying You Properly for Missed Meal and Rest Breaks? Only If it Includes Nondiscretionary Pay in Your Regular Rate of Compensation.

The California Supreme Court has clarified that employers must include both hourly wages and all nondiscretionary payments when calculating the regular rate of pay for the purposes of compensating employees for missed meal and rest periods. See Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC (2021) 11 Cal.5th 858. The Court further held that this decision applies […]


My Company Owes Me Wages.  Can I Sue My Boss Individually For Them?

In California, employees can sue certain individuals for money that their employers owe them.  But a recent decision by the California Supreme Court limits the avenues for that type of recovery.Gear and Gavel

First, the good news:  California Labor Code section 558.1 allows “person[s] acting on behalf of an employer” to be held liable as the employer for violating any provision regulating minimum wages or hours and days of work in any of the Industrial Welfare Commission wage orders.  This section also applies to the following Labor Code sections:  203 (failure to pay wages due at the time of termination); 226 (failure to provide proper wage statements); 226.7 (failure to provide meal and rest breaks); 1193.6 (failure to pay minimum wage); 1194 (failure to pay minimum wage) and 2802 (failure to reimburse for business expenses). Continue reading “My Company Owes Me Wages.  Can I Sue My Boss Individually For Them?”


Which Wage and Hour Laws Apply to California Public Employees?

Wage and hour laws require that employers pay minimum wages and overtime wages, provide meal and rest breaks, and pay all wages immediately upon termination of employment, among many other things.Gear and Gavel Public employees often wonder whether they are covered by these laws, or whether such basic protections do not apply to them.  The answer in California, in true lawyerly fashion, is, “it depends.”  This post will attempt to sort out which wage and hour laws apply to public employees and which, unfortunately, do not. Continue reading “Which Wage and Hour Laws Apply to California Public Employees?”


Court Holds that Teachers at a Jewish Synagogue are not Exempt from Employment Laws under the Ministerial Exception

Employment laws provide workers with important protections, such as minimum and overtime wages, the right to be free from harassment or discrimination, and workers’ compensation. In certain situations, these laws conflict with The United States Constitution’s prohibition against governmental interference with the free exercise of religion. Specifically, the “ministerial exception” exempts individuals that are classified […]


On-Call Rest Periods Not Permitted in California

California’s Wage Orders provide as follows:

Every employer shall authorize and permit all employees to take rest periods, which insofar as practicable shall be in the middle of each work period. The authorized rest period time shall be based on the total hours worked daily at the rate of ten (10) minutes net rest time per four (4) hours or major fraction thereof. However, a rest period need not be authorized for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half (31/2) hours. Authorized rest period time shall be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.

The Wage Orders require employers to pay the employee for one (1) hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that the rest period is not provided and for an additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each workday that a meal period is not provided.  See also California Labor Code Section 226.7.

In a recent case addressing an employer’s obligation to relieve its employees of all duties during a rest period, the California Supreme Court held that “employers must relieve their employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their break time.”  Augustus v. ABM Sec. Servs., Inc. (Mar. 15, 2017) 2 Cal.5th 257, 260.  The Court clarified that an employers’ obligation to relieve an employee of all duties applied not only to meal periods, but also to rest periods.  Id. at 265.  Continue reading “On-Call Rest Periods Not Permitted in California”


Rest Periods Must be Separately Compensated for Commissioned Employees

In Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture LLC (Feb. 28, 2017, B269657) __ Cal.App.4th __ (“Slip Op.”), the Court of Appeal explained that an employer’s obligation to separately compensate employees for rest periods extends to employees who are paid on a commission basis. This decision is in accord with other Court of Appeal decisions that require employers to separately compensate rest periods for employees who are paid on a piece-rate basis. (See Bluford v. Safeway Stores, Inc. (2013) 216 Cal.App.4th 864; Gonzalez v. Downtown L.A. Motors, LP (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 36; see also Labor Code § 226.2.)

In Vaquero, the court analyzed IWC Wage Order No. 7, which applies to the Mercantile Industry, including retail and wholesale salespeople. Section 12 of Wage Order No. 7 says that employees must receive 10 minutes of rest time for every four hours worked, or major fraction thereof, which must be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.

Continue reading “Rest Periods Must be Separately Compensated for Commissioned Employees”


Rest Period Pay and Overtime Premiums for Piece-Rate Workers

A complicated and developing area of California wage and hour law involves how to calculate wages and premium pay for piece-rate workers. In this post, we will explain the calculations for rest period wages and overtime premiums for piece-rate workers.

Many California workers are compensated on what is known as a “piece-rate” basis. Piece-rate means that a worker’s pay is based on a specific amount paid for completing a particular task or making a particular piece of goods. This could include truck drivers who are paid based on the number or type of loads delivered, factory workers who are paid based on the number of widgets completed, or construction workers, such as plumbers or electricians, who are paid based on the number of installations they do.

Even though piece-rate workers are not paid by the hour, they are still entitled to the protections provided by the California Labor Code. These protections include overtime premium pay for more than eight hours of work in a day or 40 hours in a week, meal periods before the end of fifth hour of work, separate compensation for required rest periods, and wage statements showing, among other things, the number of pieces completed, the applicable piece rates, and overtime and rest period pay.

But if someone is paid by the piece, how is their hourly wage calculated for the purpose of determining the amount of wages for paid rest periods and overtime premiums?

Continue reading “Rest Period Pay and Overtime Premiums for Piece-Rate Workers”


Can California Employers Combine Rest Breaks into One Break?

One common source of PAGA penalties occurs when employers fail to authorize and permit the rest breaks that are required under California law.   When this happens, workers can recover one hour of pay at their regular hourly rate for each day they are deprived of one or more rest breaks.  They can also seek penalties […]


The Timing of Rest Breaks: Before or After Meal Breaks, and Can a Company Combine Breaks into One Long Break?

Two questions have bedevilled practitioners representing workers in California ever since the California Supreme Court issued Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court in 2012:  In a shift that qualifies for two rest breaks and one meal break, are employers required to provide one rest break before the meal break Gear-and-Gavel_dark-blueand the other one after?  And, on a related note, can an employer combine multiple rest breaks into one long rest break?

In Rodriguez v. E.M.E., Inc. (April 22, 2016), the employees worked eight hour shifts.  The defendant provided them with one meal break and one 20 minute rest break that fell either before or after the meal break.  The Second District Court of Appeal used this scenario to provide some critical guidance with respect to when and how employers must schedule rest breaks. Continue reading “The Timing of Rest Breaks: Before or After Meal Breaks, and Can a Company Combine Breaks into One Long Break?”