Huge Victory for Truckers in Major Meal and Rest Break Period Breakthrough Case

An important case this week within the Meal and Rest Break realm was revived by a California Judge when he certified a class action lawsuit brought by a number of truckers.  The two truckers who brought the case on behalf of 154 other truckers alleged that a trucking company by the name of Vitran Express, Inc. discouraged and prevented the truckers from taking meal and rest breaks.  Similar to many other cases we see at our firm, the employer promised break periods but in practice made it almost impossible to actually take the legally-mandated breaks.

Moreover, the judge even said that the court can look back four years to 2010 when the initial class certification request was made.   Importantly, the Judge found sufficient common declarations showing that the defendant implemented and uniformly applied an unofficial policy to deprive class members of their legally required meal and rest breaks. (See Brandon Campbell et al v. Vitran Express, Inc. et al)

In California, employers are required to provide employees with at least a 30 minute meal break if they work in excess of five hours a day and if they work more than 10 hours in one day the employees are entitled to a second meal period of at least 30 minutes.  During this meal break an employee cannot be performing any duties of work and must be permitted to leave the premises, otherwise the meal period time counts at time worked.

If an employer fails to give an employee the appropriate meal break under the California Labor law, an employee may be entitled to recover one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for each workday where a meal break was not provided. However, there are some exceptions to this rule regarding meal breaks.

A crucial consideration to bear in mind is that the Statue of Limitations under the Federal Fair Labor and Standards Act is two years, but it is extended to three years for “willful” violations (a much higher threshold to prove).  The Statute of Limitations for wage claims under California law is generally four years from the time the compensation was due.  See more information about Meal and Rest Breaks at our dedicated Blog page.

If you suffered an employment-related action such as the employer not providing the opportunity for a meal and rest period or were retaliated against for reporting such illegal conduct to Human Resources or a government regulator, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital.  Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.