Recently, Workers’ Rights Coordinating Attorney, Ruben Guerra conducted a mediation in a wage and hour case, which settled for $72,000. The case involved eight restaurant workers who complained about not having been provided meal or rest periods against. Party names may not be disclosed because the settlement includes a confidentiality clause.
In general for each day that a meal or rest break is not provided, one hour of wages is due for each violation. So, if there are no meal or rest breaks provided to a worker, two hours of that worker’s hourly rate must be paid. The claim may be for up to three years prior to the date of filing.
Ruben filed individual complaints with the Labor Commissioner. He spent hours calculating damages and gathering evidence, including witness testimony, employee records, and company policies regarding meal and rest breaks. The parties then agreed to mediate the case. At mediation, Ruben argued that the case was really about the employer’s lack of respect for the dignity of its workers and that the failure to provide breaks was merely an extension of its ill treatment of its employees. Ruben’s passionate advocacy is no doubt the reason why a case involving only break premiums was settled at such a high amount!
In addition to the monetary recovery, the settlement agreement included provisions that the employer would: (1) change its meal and rest break policies, including actively scheduling meal and rest periods; (2) invest in a payroll system so that meal breaks are properly tracked; and (3) re-draft and reissue employment manuals outlining updated meal and rest period policies, so that there is no confusion about the rights of the workers.