California employers got an unexpected gift from the California Supreme Court today when it ruled on Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court Case number S166350. In this labor case the Court ruled, affirming the Appellate Court, that while employers have a duty to provide workers with meal and rest breaks, they are not required to make sure that workers take them.

While the Supreme Court made it clear that employers do not have a duty to police the taking of meal and rest breaks by employees it still found that the employer cannot impede, discourage or dissuade employees from taking them. The Supreme Court said that the employees should be free of “all duty, with the employee thereafter at liberty to use the meal period for whatever purposes he or she desires.”

The Brinker Restuarant Corp. and its parent corporation Binker International own the Chili’s Bar & Grill and Romano’s Grill chains.

This case marks a significant victory for companies who require flexiblity on the job for workers meals and breaks such as the restaurant and the construction industry.

Look for more detail on this case in our next newsletter.