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In a recent ruling by the California Court of Appeals, the court reviewed a wage and hour lawsuit and addressed the issue of employer-provided meal periods and rest periods.
The employer in question is the Petitioner in the case, namely, United Parcel Service (UPS). In the wage and hour lawsuit, the California Court of Appeals looked at the Labor Code and discussed the liability of an employer who failed to provide a meal and rest period to employees. The question, essentially, was whether the statute authorized a penalty of one additional hour of pay for the missed meal or rest period or whether it was liable to pay two hours -- one hour of pay for the meal period and one hour of pay for the rest period.
The statute in question is Labor Code section 226.7 and provides:
“(a) No employer shall require an employee to work during any meal or rest period mandated by an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission. (b) If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period or rest period in accordance with an applicable order of the Industrial Welfare Commission, the employer shall pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation for each work day that the meal or rest period is not provided.”
In deciding on the question, the court first looked at the language in the statute, interpreting it in light of legislative intent but also construing it broadly, so as to protect the rights of the employees.
The court cited that the interpretation of the statute was “reasonably susceptible to alternative interpretations,” and as such, the court looked to legislative history involving the Industrial Welfare Commission’s wage order (which applied to the transportation industry) and Marlo v. United Parcel Service case.
As such, the court found stated that “[t]he intent behind the IWC wage orders and section 226.7 was to provide an incentive to employers to comply with labor standards and compensate employees when those standards are violated.”
The petition for writ of mandate was denied by the court and the court held that the statute entitled the workers to collect one hour of pay per missed period for a total of two hours of pay.